Girls battle distracted driving with FCCLA projectFulda students join national effort
FULDA — Who ya gonna call? Text Busters! But please, don’t dial and drive.
FULDA — Who ya gonna call?
But please, don’t dial and drive.
Two eighth-grade students at Fulda Junior High School have joined a nationwide effort to nix distracted driving, especially sending text messages while behind the wheel.
Sporting black and neon pink sweatshirts that read “Test Busters,” Taylor Kenney and Marissa Kunerth have worked since August to develop the project for their district’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter.
“We went to state last year and there was a presentation about Oprah’s pledge,” explained Marissa. “We looked it up and saw how dramatic of a problem it was.”
“More kids die from texting while driving than anything,” Taylor added.
In fact, about one-third of teens admit to frequent texting while driving, according to a survey by Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions. About 6,000 die each year in accidents caused by distracted drivers.
Rather than copying Winfrey’s No Phone Zone pledge, the girls wanted to give the initiative their own twist.
Their project focuses on several forms of distracted driving: texting, talking on the phone, applying makeup, eating or fiddling with the GPS.
They set up informational table tents at local restaurants, recorded radio announcements for stations in Slayton and Worthington, and even created a public service announcement that will air this month on Channel 3 in Worthington and Fulda.
“My mom videotaped it and we have a video editing program and my grandpa put fun effects on it — he’s a computer whiz,” Taylor said.
“It’s three scenes of what you look forward to in life and what could happen if you text and drive. It shows how it takes an effect on your life,” Marissa explained.
The third Tuesday of October is National Teen Driving Safety Day, and the girls hope to plan something special for Oct. 19. In the meantime, their classmates are checking out a distracted driving simulator loaned to the school by AAA and the Text Busters are soliciting no-text pledges from drivers and future drivers alike.
All pledges sign a form and a banner, which the students hope to display at the regional FCCLA competition in February.
“It’s more fun than bringing a stack of papers,” said Marissa, who estimated they have already collected more than 150 signatures.
Both girls tried out the simulator, and though neither is old enough to drive, they think their classmates get the message.
“It’s touchy,” Taylor said of the simulator, “but so is a car. It’s bringing you the real-life distractions in a safe environment.”
The gadget was in demand during the lunch hour, with more than 20 students gathered to wait their turn.
“I think we actually have educated more students this way, even though they all may not be able to try it,” said Marcine Elder, the FCCLA adviser in the Fulda district.
“It’s a game but I think kids realize how fast things get out of control,” added Fulda Police Chief Paul Kenney. “Nobody’s made it through with perfect texts and no violations.”