AKRON, Ohio – A decade away from getting behind the wheel themselves, first grade students sent a strong message to their parents about the dangers of texting while driving.
The students at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish School were inspired to take a stand after seeing their parents on their phones in the car.
”The kids are noticing that their moms and dads are doing it, so it was a problem they thought needed to be resolved,” said teacher Candice Nagy.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports about 400 people died in crashes involving cell phones in 2014. The agency said reading or sending a text message takes drivers’ eyes off the road for five second, and traveling at 55 miles per hour, that equates to driving the length of a football field with eyes closed.
“I wanted to do this so more people live and less people die,” student Tino Zervini said.
The students completed projects as part of a campaign to reduce texting behind the wheel, and presented their work to parents Wednesday afternoon. They made signs, key chains, a video and developed an app to draw attention to the dangers of texting while driving.
They also sold lemonade to raise money for a potential billboard as kids head outside to play this summer.
“If you're on your phone and texting while driving, you can hurt those kids that are playing,” first grader Ayani Reza said.
Texting while driving is illegal in Ohio, but it’s a secondary offense for adults. That means a police officer must first stop drivers for another, primary offense.
Still, the pleas of kids resonated.
“Who's not going to listen to a six year-old or seven year-old say, ‘Hey, mom. Hey dad. I'm in the back seat. Don't text and drive while I'm in the back seat!’”
Parents who attended the presentation said they were inspired to put their phones down.
“I think it shows that children pay attention, and parents should know they pay attention to what we do,” father Rodney Sherman said. “I think at this point, I'll just put the cell phone down, and we'll wait till we get where we're going.”