Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Students pledge not 2 txt driv

It took Brianna MacDonald just a few seconds to end her time behind the wheel.

Nathan Seller's time wasn't much longer.

They were among nearly 200 Key West High School students who tried their hands at "driving" a stationary automobile while following instructions from a computer and texting on their cellphones.

The black 2011 Toyota Camry looks just like any other, but is equipped with a visor that allows students to view the simulated road while voice instructions stream into the vehicle.

The event was hosted Wednesday by AT T, and included a written pledge students signed that says they will not ever drive and text. Held for one day only, the No Text on Board campaign is designed to alert youngsters to the dangers of doing so.

Several students said that even without the company's educational program, they already got the memo.

"I never text and drive," said Seller, a 10th-grader who nonetheless said he got a lot out of the demonstration. "It is bad and it is dangerous."

What he did learn from the program, however, was how quickly a glance away can result in a mishap or far worse. It is something he will share with friends.

Like Seller and other students, the 17-year-old MacDonald said she can text without ever looking at her screen. Even so, she abhors the practice.

"I have tried it," she said. "I can't do it."

MacDonald's "car" crashed almost as soon as she began, as she texted just like the computer voice told her to.

The display included advertisements for AT T's free phone application DriveMode -- available for all operating systems except the iPhone.

It holds messages and calls while someone is driving, delivering a custom message telling the caller or texter why you can't come to the phone.

Assistant Principal Mike Michaud said he believes the program can do a lot of good.

"Seeing it like this is important," Michaud said. "They are seeing how easy it is if they are texting to hit a pedestrian or go through a red light, or go into another car."


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