LOWELL – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan spoke to 120 students at the Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School Tuesday about the dangers of distracted driving as part of the “It Can Wait” program, an effort to prevent teens from texting while driving.
“Texting takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off the task of driving – it is the most dangerous form of distracted driving,” District Attorney Ryan said. “As District Attorney, I have seen firsthand the tragic results of distracted driving. These tragedies can be prevented if we all pledge to stop texting, emailing or taking our eyes off the road when we’re behind the wheel.”
It takes approximately 4.6 seconds to send a text message, Ryan explained. During that time, a car going 55 miles an hour can travel 100 yards – the length of a football field.
“No one would think it is a good idea to drive 100 yards with your eyes closed,” District Attorney Ryan told students.
“It Can Wait” is a distracted driving educational presentation sponsored by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and its non-profit partner, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc. The program includes a powerful documentary produced by AT&T that features stories from individuals whose lives have been forever altered by texting while driving.
Distracted driving is the number one killer of teens between the ages of 16 and 19. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 47 percent of adults admit that they have texted while driving. Crashes are 23 times more likely to occur while texting and driving.
District Attorney Ryan also spoke to students about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including marijuana. She urged all students to make good decisions and have a plan in order to avoid getting into a vehicle with someone who is under the influence.
Joining District Attorney Ryan for the program were Dr. Margaret McDevitt, Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School Superintendent and Director; Lowell Police Lt. Daniel Larocque; and school Board of Trustee members Molly Sheehy, retired Dean of Middlesex Community College and James Linnehan, Executive Vice President of Middlesex Community College.
The Lowell Middlesex Academy Charter School is a public high school that targets at-risk adolescents who have officially dropped out of high school or who are seriously at risk of doing so. Its curriculum is designed to meet the needs of over age students enrolling with very little high school credit and those who have on-going obstacles to regular school attendance. Students, age 16 to 21, come from seven cities and towns: Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Lowell, Tewksbury, Lawrence and Methuen.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office has presented “It Can Wait” to schools across the county. For more information on “It Can Wait,” visit http://middlesexda.com/