Sometimes it takes one to know one.
Young people from Lewiston High School are stepping up to help local teenagers recognize the danger of texting while driving as part of a project the group hopes ITD may consider adopting statewide.
A recent chapter survey conducted by the Lewiston High School DECA club uncovered some surprising results:
“Each year, our DECA chapter prepares marketing projects for DECA competition,” said Lasinnda Mathewson, marketing teacher and DECA advisor at Lewiston High School. “As a chapter, our goal is to produce meaningful work that is advantageous to our community.”
DECA (formerly known as Distributive Education Clubs of America, also known as Delta Epsilon Chi at the college level) is an international association of high school and college students studying marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales and service.
Lewiston chapter representatives Ali Blakeman and Cody Solders presented their group’s findings and a plan to ITD and community representatives recently in Boise.
Their data was sobering. Texting while driving increases the risk of a motor vehicle crash by 23 times, according to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study.
Research also shows that one in four U.S. drivers text while driving a motor vehicle. The rate is even higher among teenage drivers between the ages of 16 and 19, with nearly two out of three admitting to the practice.
“Numbers such as these showed us that the problem was even greater than previously thought,” the DECA proposal states.
The group’s proposed four-month safety campaign “Send Can End” includes a school-based program where posters and a weeklong awareness campaign will inform students ages 14-19 about the dangers of texting while driving. Teenagers who have a driver’s licenses will be encouraged to give up texting while driving.
A statewide advertising plan using billboards along major transportation routes and radio ads will be used to reach the rest of the state’s population not targeted by the school-based efforts.
Through the use of business partnerships, the group hopes to distribute materials to drivers of all ages reminding them of the dangers related to texting while driving. Examples include mirror hangers in new and rental cars, cell phone packaging inserts and business-style cards placed at county DMV offices.
Use of the social networking Web sites Facebook and Myspace will be important to the DECA club’s outreach strategy, although Twitter was rejected as a tool for the campaign because “tweets” are too easily ignored by the people who use the service and sometimes are made while driving, according to the campaign proposal.
U.S. Census figures show that Idaho has 85,576 high school students. Many of the teenagers hold driver’s licenses and are primary targets for campaign advertising materials. Even students without licenses will benefit from the campaign’s message, preparing them for safe driving in the future.
The Lewiston High School DECA club’s “Send Can End” safety campaign earned first-place honors during regional competition in Boise. Club members will travel to the International Career Development Conference 2010 April 24-27 in Louisville, Ky., for more competition.
Photo: Lewiston High School students Ali Blakeman and Cody Solders show some of the promotional items they want to use in their campaign to convince teenage drivers to avoid texting while driving.