NPHS students pledge not to text while driving

NPHS students pledge not to text while driving

North Providence High School junior Kevin Ciprian signs a pledge not to text and drive during a kickoff event of the "It Can Wait" campaign at the school last Thursday. Attorney Gen. Peter Kilmartin watches. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE - State and local officials launched a statewide high school awareness tour "Texting & Drving ... It Can Wait" last Thursday at North Providence High School. More than 500 students and faculty signed a pledge not to text while driving.

Attorney Gen. Peter Kilmartin and representatives from the State Police and Department of Transportation were joined by North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi, an executive from AT&T New England, local police officers and school officials to mark national "Drive 4 Pledges Day."

Assistant Principal Christen Magill demonstrated a driving simulator that showed how much texting affects a driver's ability to maintain control of a vehicle. After receiving just two simulated text messages, she "crashed."

Following a speaking program, students viewed an AT&T documentary featuring families forever impacted by texting and driving accidents.

"Texting while driving is a major problem, both in Rhode Island and across the country. We have seen multiple accidents right here in Rhode Island in which distracted driving and/or texting while driving was a contributing factor," said Kilmartin, who sponsored the state's landmark legislation in 2009 banning texting while driving, as well as this year's legislation to increase penalties for drivers caught texting and driving.

"Just as it took time and education to convince people to wear seat belts, it will take time to change attitudes about how dangerous it is to text and drive," said Kilmartin.

Throughout the school year, Kilmartin and DOT officials will bring the public awareness campaign to area high schools. Interested parties are encouraged to follow the lead of North Providence High School students and visit www.itcanwait.com to take the no texting pledge. They can then share their promise with others via Twitter, hashtag #itcanwait, and Facebook.