Barnwell Co. school crusades against texting while driving

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Sept. 21, 2012

BLACKVILLE, S.C. -- Texting and driving can lead to the wreckage in front of Jefferson Davis Academy in Blackville this week.

"This was a normal car that was driving down the road, and a split-second decision caused him his life,” said Amy Boney, a health teacher at the Jefferson Davis Academy.

The car wound up wrapped around a tree, and the Barnwell County driver was dead. He or she was just one of the 570 South Carolina traffic fatalities so far this year.

"I thought it'd be about half of that really. That's a lot of people,” said JDA student Will Gee.

"The reality is most of our children probably do text and drive. Most adults admit to texting and driving, so I'm pretty sure my children do, too. They think it's not going to happen to them,” said Boney, who set up the week of presentations to educate the students on the dangers of texting and driving.

On Thursday, she invited the South Carolina Highway Patrol and the Alcohol Enforcement Team of the Second Judicial Circuit to her Blackville school.

Lance Cpl. Judd Jones of Highway Patrol explained how dangerous distractions can be with road conditions changing every second.

"I've seen people reading the newspaper, maps, women doing their hair and makeup. I saw a guy brushing his teeth one time,” Jones said.

He says cellphones are the biggest distraction for teens, and traffic crashes are the number one killer of teenagers. Out of the 570 fatalities so far this year in South Carolina, 101 were teenagers behind the wheel.

"They actually make up a small percentage of drivers on the roadway but a large number of fatalities that we have on the roadway,” Jones said.

Even though South Carolina doesn't have a law banning texting and driving, Jones told the students there are other things they can be charged with if they hit and possibly kill someone while texting and driving.

Jones and Steve Deibel from the AET also preached the importance of wearing seat belts. About half of the students at JDA raised their hands to admit they don't wear one unless they see a cop.

Gee says he thinks the presentation on Thursday may have changed some of his colleagues’ minds. Jones and Deibel say hopefully the presentation saved some lives, too.

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