Garner High School students learn the dangers of texting and driving

cseward@newsobserver.comApril 15, 2014 

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Phone in hand, Garner High School ninth-grader Siiri Lundberg mows down a cone while trying to text and drive as Garner Police Officer Brian Hanson rides along. The Garner High students experienced the difficulty of texting while driving in a controlled course at the school on Wednesday. In North Carolina, all drivers are banned from texting behind the wheel, and drivers under age 18 are banned from using cellphones while driving.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— “Drive. You’re holding up traffic. You’re holding up traffic,” Garner police officer Brian Hanson said.

Garner Magnet High School student Ronnie Morton acknowledged the officer and went back to texting on his phone. Seconds later Morton cringed as his vehicle seemed to hit something.

The officer didn’t arrest Morton for his negligent driving. In fact he chuckled and continued to heckle his slow driving.

Of course, the car was a golf cart and the two were participating in a demonstration in the parking lot of Garner High’s freshman center during an event put on by the SAVE Club (Students Against Violence Everywhere).

SAVE held a number events at the school last week to commemorate National Youth Violence Prevention Week including the anti-texting-while-driving test, in which students drove through a cone course once without texting and once while texting to show the difference distractions make.

“We went through the course once without texting to see how we did, I didn’t do that well, and then we went once through while texting,” said Noah Giroux, another student who participated. “I did worse then, obviously.”

The SAVE Club focuses on fighting a wide range of threats, including child abuse, date rape, cyber-bullying, texting-while-driving and drunken driving, SAVE faculty sponsor Vickie Szarek said.

Another event last week was Silence the Violence Day, during which about 100 studnets spent the entire day not speaking in order to protest various forms of violence.

Szarek said students told her it was really hard to be quiet, but worth it to bring attention to the issues.

“They felt really strongly about violence, to get it out of schools,” she said.

There was also a pledge signed by many students to support nonviolent activity.

The Allstate Foundation provided a grant to help put on Wednesday’s demonstration in the parking lot of Garner High’s Ninth Grade Center.

“Did we get rid of violence? No, I’m not naive enough to believe that,” Szarek said. “But if we can affect just a few students, that would make an impact.”

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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