HUDSON, Wis. -- A new law that bans texting while driving on Wisconsin roads goes into effect December first. Fines will range from $20 to $400.
Just in time to help promote the new law, a group of civic minded young people in Hudson, Wisconsin are asking their friends this:
If you won't listen to your parents, please listen to us.
It's an approach that just might work and the message is clear. They want their friends take the pledge that they won't text or talk on the phone while driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 20 percent of all crashes involve some type of distraction like phone calls and text messages. And younger, inexperienced drivers under the age of 20 are responsible for most distraction-related fatal crashes.
The statistics were shocking to Brooke Brokaw, a member of Hudson's Youth Court, a group of young people who work with the court system to sentence other young people.
"Almost every kid in this high school has a cell phone and I know all my friends have cell phones. So if they decide to text and drive that could affect them or if I'm driving by them and they're distracted that could affect me," says Brooke.
Youth Court was looking for a service project and learned about KARE 11's campaign against distracted driving, 'The Great Hang Up.'
Brooke and other members of Youth Court decided to spread the message in Hudson, teaming with the school group 'Students Against Destructive Decisions' and the police department.
"It happens in a milli-second. A lot times we have accidents in the city. They reached down to grab their cell phone because it was ringing. It fell and they reached down to grab them and they look up and the car in front of them stopped," says police chief Marty Jensen.
The team members launched their campaign against distracted driving last month and have already collected 200 pledges from people their own age agreeing not to text or talk while driving.
"I think that teens telling other teens not to do something is more influential then parents telling their kids not to text and drive or not to talk on the phone and drive," says student Hannah Montgomery.
It a campaign they plan to grow.
They're already talking to other young people in River Falls, knowing every signature is one that might save someone's life.
"We just really hope that the people that sign the pledges take it really seriously and however many people want to sign it, we're thrilled. If that means 200 or 1000 or 10,000, that is just another person who is hopefully saying that they're not going to text and drive and cause a crash," says Brooke.
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