On a crisp February afternoon, students watched as a fictitious emergency scene played out at Western Guilford High School. Several hundred students sat in bleachers and watched the staged horror of a car accident in the school parking lot. The program, called “message 2 die 4” was an effort between the school, local law enforcement and some Greensboro businesses. It was designed at educating teen drivers about the dangers of texting while behind the wheel.
Students watched as more than a dozen vehicles sped into the school parking lot with sirens blaring. Responders used the Jaws of Life to rip apart a blue Volkswagen and pull a student actor from the wreck. In the scenario, students were told the driver had been texting with her boyfriend when the accident occurred.
The students were later informed that the girl died after being air lifted from the scene. A mock funeral was part of the program.
Texting while driving has been illegal in the state for more than three years, but law enforcement officers say they are ramping up education and citations as they’ve anecdotally observed the problem getting worse.
Last year in Guilford County, there were only 144 citations issued for texting while driving and in the state just 1,910 tickets were handed out. That compares to more than 68,000 tickets for driving under the influence and more than 328,000 speeding citations.
An officer with the Greensboro Traffic Unit declined to say how many citations would be issued this year, only saying he expects the primary infraction to be more of a focus for officers. Studies have shown that programs such as ‘Click It or Ticket’ as well as ‘Booze It and Lose’ It raise awareness and improve safety.