Washburn leadership students combat texting and driving

Adrianne Lara

The epidemic of texting and driving was tackled on the Washburn University campus Tuesday morning.

Students of a Leadership Studies class had the privilege of addressing the issue at 11 a.m. alongside Washburn president Jerry Farley, Kansas state senators Laura Kelly and Vicki Schmidt, AT&T representative Mike Scott, and Topeka Metro general manager Susan Duffy.

“If you are texting, or if someone else is driving and they are, it is putting not only you and your passengers at risk, but other people on the highways at risk at the same time,” Farley said at a presentation put on by the students in the leadership class.

Farley discussed how truly dangerous texting and driving can be and how the issue has become even more severe with younger generations, as most people cannot go anywhere without their cellphones.

Farley introduced AT&T representative Mike Scott and a driving simulator that AT&T provided. AT&T partnered with their competing phone carriers on this issue, starting the campaign known across America as “It Can Wait”.

The simulator allowed students to sit in a makeshift car driver’s seat with a steering wheel. A phone was provided which received a text every 20 seconds. Students were required to respond to the texts without crashing, running red lights or being pulled over.

By 11:45 a.m., no one had successfully completed the simulator.

In September 2013, AT&T held a campaign against texting a driving in Washburn’s Mabee Library. Duffy and Topeka Metro were so impacted that they wanted to get involved instantly, and have been ever since.

Duffy brought to Washburn on Tuesday a pledge sticker for Topeka Metro to give people to place their hand on and sign as they took the pledge not to text and drive.

Farley himself signed the pledge.

Anyone can visit the AT&T website, www.itcanwait.com, to pledge themselves not to text and drive, as well as attempt the online version of the stimulator.