By Jeff Harrison
Distracted driving is on the rise.
But a group of Midwest City High School students are hoping to stop that trend among their peers.
Seniors Alexandria Silvernail, Trinity Brazel and Kathryn Smith are raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving as part of a school project through DECA class.
The week-long project titled “Gone in a Snap” will take place Nov. 27-Dec.1. The group will deliver their message through interactive presentations, activities, posters, literature, and morning announcements. The girls worked with FNB Community Bank to create a SnapChat filter promoting their message.
The group said they chose to focus their project on distracted driving because it is an increasingly common and risky activity among teens. Many teen drivers don’t hesitate to text or use social media on their phones while behind the wheel.
“It’s a bigger issue because you see your friends doing it and think you can do it too,” Brazel said. “And for 2000s babies, social media is a big deal and being on your phone while you’re driving is becoming normal.”
Smith admitted using her phone while driving in the past, but said the project has changed her habits. And hopes it will have a similar impact on others.
“It often takes a tragedy to happen before people change. And we’re trying to make this stop within our school before something does happen,” Smith said.
One of the highlights of the week will be a special presentation during Bomber Time on Nov. 29. The students will use props and audio/visuals to demonstrate a fatal accident caused by a distracted driver.
“It shows that you’re not only putting yourself in danger, but you could take away the life of someone else,” Smith said.
The project will also touch on drunk driving and how it compares to distracted driving. Students will be asked to participate in simulations using a Simulated Impaired Driving Experience or SIDNE car.
“Some people think driving drunk is a lot worse than texting and driving , but statistics show it’s the opposite,” Silvernail said. “People think texting and driving is not a big deal, and they can get used to it. We need to raise awareness that you cannot get used to it.”
While warnings about the dangers of distracted driving are all around, the students hope they can catch the ears of their classmates.
“That’s one of the concerns is that the students wouldn’t take it in,” Silvernail said. “We’re trying to find things that will catch their attention. And sometimes hearing things from other teens makes it click.”
The group is also working with Midwest City Police Sgt. Terry Tilley, school resources officer, on getting education materials for the project.
The students also plan to enter the project in state and national DECA competitions. The public relations project includes the project as well as a 30-page paper. If they place in the top three at state, the girls will then move onto the national competition.