Don’T Let Your Last Words Be ‘Lol’

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“Yeah”

“lol”

“Where R U?”

These are real not-so-famous last words of teenagers just like me who lost their lives when they made the deadly mistake of texting while driving.

There was a time that I was just like those kids. I LOVE to text with my friends. It’s easy. It’s convenient. Everybody I know does it.

That is why it was so scary when I watched the documentary “The Last Text,” http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=DebhWD6ljZs created by AT&T, at the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) summit this week in Washington, D.C. A documentary which told the real-life stories of kids who died in horrible car crashes, simply because they were distracted by their phones while behind the wheel.

Their families were devastated, and so were their friends. A young girl about my age cried as she talked about the last text she sent to her best friend, who was driving and took her eyes off the road to check the message.

“Yeah,” the text said. This four-letter word ended a life.

I could easily see myself in that same situation. I don’t want to lose my life, and I don’t want to ever lose one of my friends. I appreciate the efforts that AT&T and NOYS has made to raise awareness about the risks of texting while driving. I am also proud that Payson High School is one of the schools leading the charge nationally to spread the word that when it comes to texting and driving: “It Can Wait,” through a series of texting and driving summits across the country, including one in Arizona early next year. This will be led by Payson Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) leaders including Shelly Camp, Austin Shannon, Anthony Smith, Megan Wessel and Natalie Black, which was also the team that attended the National Teen Distracted Driving Summit earlier this month.

But they need our help to really reach all the young people who are in the most danger (teenagers are by far the most prolific texters).

Studies from the Texas Transportation Institute show that when drivers read or send a text, their reaction time doubled. That means that if you are driving 55 miles per hour and take your eyes off the road to read a text — for just five seconds! — You will drive the length of a football field completely blind.

Think about it. If you asked someone to close their eyes and drive for five seconds, they would think you are crazy. But I know people who cannot resist checking their phones when they hear that beep that indicates a new text — no matter where they are!

So please don’t text and drive. Your friends are important, trust me, that message can wait.

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