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Students test texting skills
Benton High School senior Patrick Dixon volunteers to show how texting affects his driving at an assembly at the high school on May 15.

BENTON—The Benton middle and high school students learned the dangers of texting while driving at a special assembly on May 15. Three students volunteered to test their texting skills while “driving” using a simulation program.

Delete - Merge Up“A text message is like a Christmas present,” Jim Jermain of AT&T said. “You want to see what it is right away. Texting while driving is compared to driving under the influence. It’s impaired driving. It takes five to six seconds to respond. Would you close your eyes that long on a freeway?”

Jermain said those who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be in an accident.

“Not only is texting and driving against the law in Wisconsin, but it is also extremely dangerous and can be deadly,” said principal Kyle Luedtke.  “The message is simple: there is no text worth dying for. We hope our students really take this message to heart and pledge to never text and drive.”

The assembly was part of a series of high school events AT&T, AAA and the Wisconsin State Patrol are holding this school year to drive home the dangers of texting behind the wheel.  Students were given the chance to experience firsthand the dangers in a safe setting through AAA’s distracted driving simulator. Three volunteers—senior Patrick Dixon and juniors Ethan Oman and Jenna Droessler—responded to texts from their friends in the audience as they “drove” in varying situations in the driving simulator. All three eventually crashed.

A representative from the Wisconsin State Patrol said most people think an accident from texting while driving won’t happen to them. Drugs and alcohol affect driving, and so does texting.

The fine for texting while driving is $187.90 in Wisconsin.

Students were also shown a powerful documentary produced by AT&T called “The Last Text” that shares real stories about lives altered or ended by someone’s decision to text and drive.

“Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous activities a driver can do behind the wheel,” said State Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green).  “While Wisconsin bans texting and driving, we must continue to raise awareness about the dangers and urge all drivers, particularly our teens, to put down their phones when on the road.”

Wisconsin marked the third anniversary of its no-texting-while-driving ban on Dec. 1, 2013.  The law prohibits sending an e-mail or text message while driving and imposes a fine of up to $400. As a primary enforcement law, officers may stop and ticket drivers solely for texting and driving. Wisconsin is among 41 states that ban text messaging by all drivers.

AT&T first launched the It Can Wait® campaign in 2009 to educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving and encourage consumers to take the pledge to never text and drive at  Since 2010, AT&T, AAA and the State Patrol have partnered together to hold events in 55 cities throughout Wisconsin, reaching over 25,000 high school students.

Texting while driving causes more than 200,000 car crashes on American roadways each year, according to the National Safety Council1.  Those who send text messages while driving are much more likely to be in a crash.

Research shows that speaking up against texting while driving works.   A survey sponsored by AT&T found that:
78% of teen drivers say they’re likely not to text and drive if friends tell them it’s wrong or stupid.
90% say they’d stop if a friend in the car asked them to.
93% would stop if a parent in the car asked them to.