Tuesday was my last W82TXT program at DARE Camp for the summer. It’s made me a little sad actually. I have really enjoyed working with the rising sixth-graders at the weekly summer camp sponsored by our friends at the Huntersville Police Department.
As many of you know, our agency sponsors a W82TXT program in Driver’s Education classes at Hopewell, Hough, North Meck, Lake Norman Charter and Mallard Creek High Schools. It’s been almost a year since we began our campaign and we’ve lost count of the number of students who have heard the message about NOT texting behind the wheel. While working with these students, we’ve discovered that some of the worst offenders of texting-while-driving appears to be their parents.
Once we began to see the ‘parental texting’ trend develop, we partnered with the Huntersville Police Department to reach younger kids (and their parents) through the DARE Camp. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the DARE program, it is the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program that is taught in Mecklenburg county schools to rising sixth-graders. The DARE program doesn’t only focus on the prevention of drug/alcohol use, but really gets to the core of learning how to make good, safe decisions. This age can be a ‘turning point’ age for many kids, where their home circumstances can be dicey, where bullying and peer pressure can become unbearable and their lives are inundated with decisions that can affect the rest of their lives.
So, where does W82TXT fit into the DARE Model? Well, it’s about working with DARE students to spread the word to their parents. We give them the facts on how dangerous texting driving is and have them brainstorm alternatives to prevent their parents from behind the wheel. They are given a W82TXT pledge to take home and discuss with their parents. The pledge is for the parents to make the decision to stop texting behind the wheel and for the student to offer gentle reminders if their parents forget.
Maybe by reaching these kids, long before they begin to drive themselves, it will help prevent future texting drivers. Maybe these children will remind their parents they are transporting the most precious cargo ever – their child – and texting increases their chances of having an accident by 23%. Maybe, just maybe, it will prevent just one more accident from occurring where a young (or not-so-young) person is injured or killed as a result of someone texting while driving.
Special thanks to Sergeant Tom Seifert and Officer Melissa Brunson for allowing Fogle Insurance Group to partner with the Huntersville Police Department with this very important program. We’ve really had a great time working with you and the kids and look forward to working together in the future!