Decisions: Family of Distracted Driving Victim Visits UCA

February 06, 2017 | Timothy Kosaka

Wednesday assembly time at Upper Columbia Academy in Spangle, Wash., is more than just announcements. It’s also a time to share life-changing information.

At a recent assembly, Jim and Lisa Thompson shared the story of how they lost their son, Sam, because of distracted driving. One minute before the call to 911 that reported his accident, phone records showed an outgoing text. Students watched a video about his story and how this accident impacted his friends and family forever. “Texting while driving is something just about everyone knows is wrong but has shrugged off,” Jim Thompson shared. “Everyone has done or seen this. Sometimes people don’t even think about it or see the real danger.”

“Seeing someone my age go through this makes me realize that texting and driving is more than a distraction, its losing a life,” says Annie Wirtz, a sophomore.

Students learned distracted drivers are four times more likely to be in a crash. Furthermore, every 12 minutes someone crashes due to “technology.” “Multitasking is a myth,” shared a Colfax, Wash., police officer. “It’s pretty scary when people try to drive while texting. The next death could be someone close to us, gone in an instant.”

Online studies show texting and driving distracts the driver as much as a 0.19 blood alcohol level. That means you’re more likely to crash from texting than from drinking. “I have too often given into the pressure to respond to a text, but this assembly reminded me that is a selfish and impatient choice. Give your phone to someone else or pull over to the side of the road,” says Michelle Melendy, school counselor.

Following the assembly, students were encouraged to sign a contract to refrain from texting while driving. More than 100 students made the pledge.

Read more from the KHQ website.