Staffer Exposes Dangers of Texting While Driving

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Staffer Exposes Dangers of Texting While Driving

Ben Hopper, Staff Reporter

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With phone use on the rise, the OHS student parking lot is becoming a more dangerous place.

Christine Sermak said there were three reported crashes in the 2015-2016 school year, and one so far this year.

“We have had students get detentions, Saturday schools and even be suspended for unsafe driving,” Sermak said.

Derm Clarkin, school security, is most often in charge of supervising the parking lot.

“The number of students texting and driving in our parking lot is similar to the country-wide number of 49 percent,” Clarkin said.

49 percent of students on their phones means that half of the people entering or leaving the parking lot care more about snapchatting than the car in front of them.

“Kids definitely use their phones while driving in our parking lot,” Joe Singh (11), a student that drives to and from school, said.

Clearly, the dangers of texting and driving do not stop outside the student parking lot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine Americans are killed each day due to distracted driving,

Okemos High School administrators have noticed the issue. As a result, they have increased their emphasis on stopping distracted driving.

“Okemos High School shows announcements and documentaries to educate people through real life examples,” Sermak said.

OHS also has several groups and clubs that help spread awareness about texting and driving.

The Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.) group often takes action against distracted driving. In past years members have passed out “thumb reminders:” little bracelets that go around the thumb and read messages of distracted driving statistics and warnings. The goal was for students to think twice before pulling out their phones when they see what could happen to them on their own thumb, according to Sermak.

Clarkin can revoke a student’s driving privileges if a student consistently drives poorly. If it is a parent he can, and will, call the police if this sort of driving continues.

“I beep and sometimes walk over to a car when I see a student on their phone,” Clarkin said. Clarkin said he tries to maintain a safe driving environment in the parking lot.

It seems that everyone knows texting and driving is a bad, potentially life-threatening thing to do. In fact, 98 percent of adults say the practice is unsafe, according to the Washington Post.  Despite this number, every year the lives of approximately 1.25 million lives are cut short as a result of a road traffic crash, the World Health Organization said.

“We will work with the student or the parent to ensure that our OHS student parking lot stays as safe as possible and that all traffic rules are followed,” Sermak said.

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