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updated: 10/10/2011 8:49 AM

U-46 teams up with AT&T to deter teens from driving distracted

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  • Elgin Area School District 46 and AT&T are teaming up for a campaign to discourage teen drivers from using their mobile devices while behind the wheel. The district's high schools will compete to see which has the most students to pledge they won't text and drive.

       Elgin Area School District 46 and AT&T are teaming up for a campaign to discourage teen drivers from using their mobile devices while behind the wheel. The district's high schools will compete to see which has the most students to pledge they won't text and drive.
    Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

 

There's a new interschool rivalry brewing among the six high schools in Elgin Area School District U-46, and it has nothing to do with touchdowns, home runs or free throws.

This rivalry is one that could save lives.

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U-46 is among the first districts in the state to join AT&T's "Texting While Driving -- It Can Wait" campaign to discourage teen drivers from using their mobile devices while on the road.

Parents, students, alumni and others in the community are asked to support the campaign and take a pledge that they will not text and drive.

To make a pledge, participants text a code identifying the school they support. Each pledge counts as one point for the designated school. The competition is regional, and prizes include grants for after school programs. Karen Fox, U-46's executive director of family and community engagement, said while the message is aimed squarely at young drivers, adults can set the example.

"Statistics show that young drivers are more susceptible to distracted driving," Fox said. "Kids are the ones texting, so it makes sense that they are the target of this. But parents can take the pledge to not text and drive, or make an effort to not text their children at the times that they know their kids are driving."

Part of the campaign includes a simulator from AAA that creates the experience of sitting in a car when someone sends a text and the impact of an accident caused by that distraction, Fox said. Elgin and Streamwood high schools have reserved the simulator for dates in October.

Larkin High School Principal Jon Tuin said while students learn about impaired driving and safety issues in driver's education and health classes, more education is helpful.

"Texting is such a huge part of the high school culture," Tuin said. "While it is a great communication device, it can also be dangerous. We don't want anyone to get hurt."

To make a pledge, text 464329 and enter the appropriate code:

Bartlett High School -- WAIT 10

Larkin High School -- WAIT 100

Elgin High School -- WAIT 101

Streamwood High School -- WAIT 102

South Elgin High School -- WAIT 103

Gifford Street High School -- WAIT 104.

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