FHS students learn “It Can All Wait”

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Juniors and seniors at the high school learned about the dangers of texting and driving during a special assembly presented by AT&T and U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice on Nov. 6.
    
AT&T’s “It Can Wait” program, which was held at the high school’s Performing Arts Center, teaches students to exercise good judgment and be responsible motor vehicle operators by putting their phones down while driving. The program, which was also attended by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham, Freeport Village Mayor Robert Kennedy and Freeport Police Department Chief Miguel Bermudez, began with high school Principal Linda Carter expressing her gratitude for being able to host such an important program for her students.
    
“Thank you to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kishore Kuncham, for giving us the green light to have this program here,” Carter said. “Dr. Kuncham knows how passionate we are at Freeport High School about not texting and driving, and about stopping distracted driving. Teaching our students to be safe and responsible young drivers is one of our priorities and is directly in line with our character education [curriculum]. This program helps to reinforce responsibility — one of the many values we instill in our students every day.”
    
Students then watched AT&T’s “Close to Home” commercial, which depicts how quickly life can change if they ever choose to text or even glance at their phones for a moment while driving. The commercial, which ends with a sudden car accident, resonated with students, who watched the fate of a happy family change in an instant forever. New research1 from AT&T shows that 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving. It’s no longer safe to assume that people are just texting from behind the wheel. They’re checking email, posting to social, and even snapping selfies. AT&T recently expanded the focus of “It Can Wait” initiative to the broader dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel. U.S. Representative Rice then spoke to students about how they must continue to weigh the consequences that their decisions may have.
    
“The number one cause of death among people your age is car crashes,” she said. “Some people believe texting and driving is even more dangerous than drinking and driving. I’m grateful to AT&T for doing this program, and I’m so excited that you have a superintendent and a principal who are visionaries to want you to have this information to keep you safe.”
    
“When we launched ‘It Can Wait’ five years ago, the message was loud and clear: No text is worth a life,” said AT&T New York President Marissa Shorenstein. “The same now applies to all smartphone activities that people are doing while driving. We urge students, parents and teachers to take the pledge and spread the message to their friends, family and community. “
    
Students also watched “The Last Text,” a documentary produced by AT&T featuring three separate, true stories of lives that either ended or dramatically changed as a result of texting and driving.
    
Following the video, Bermudez spoke to students about the issue from the perspective of a law enforcement official.  “As police officers, even if the phone gets destroyed in a car crash, we still have access to that data and can find out if that person was on the cellphone prior to the accident,” he said. “We need you to spread the word that it can wait. This year alone, the police department in Freeport has written more than 300 percent more tickets than last year for texting or talking on the phone while driving. That’s a huge number, and I need you all to get on board and help us out with that.” The program concluded with students signing a pledge board, promising to be safe motor vehicle operators who do not text and drive and spreading the word that “it can wait.”
    
“Life is too precious to waste,” Dr. Kuncham. “We all need to respect our own lives and the lives of others by the decisions we make. Texting and other distractions can wait if it means saving a life.”

1 Research commissioned by AT&T and conducted by Braun Research. Polled 2,067 people in the U.S. aged 16-65 who use their smartphone and drive at least once a day. Additional information available here.