Sorority promotes safe driving

Leah Haselden, Staff Writer

Sigma Gamma Rho sponsored a “No Texting and Driving” forum in order to educate students on how dangerous it can be.

“We wanted to do an educational event so that students could learn and use the information in everyday life,” Samantha Jones, president of Sigma Gamma Rho, said.

Officer Richard Fields, a member of Francis Marion’s campus police, was the guest speaker.

“What you do behind the wheel is more dangerous than a gun,” Fields said.

Fields offered surprising statistics to back up his claim. Drivers are 20 times more likely to be in crash if they text while on the road. There are over 5,000 deaths related to distracted drivers every year, and about 1,000 of those deaths involve cell phone use. Unfortunately, 81 percent of people have admitted to using their cell phone while driving.

“Texting while driving is like driving after having two beers,” Fields said. “However, people with a 0.08 alcohol level still have a faster reaction time than people who text.”

Fields said the amount of calls they get about accidents involving texting or talking on the phone has unfortunately increased. He stressed the fact that when people get in the car, their primary job is driving, and any kind of distraction puts them and the other drivers on the road in more danger.

Fields commended the ones who claimed to not text and drive, and he advised them to use defensive driving techniques as a way to decrease a chance of an accident.

“If you notice a distracted driver ahead of you or behind you, try to increase the distance between your cars,” Fields said. “If you pull up beside one at a red light or on a four lane highway, steer clear or try and signal them somehow.”

Even passengers riding with dangerous drivers should speak out and tell whoever they are with to wait before they answer a text message. Drivers should always consider the lives of a passenger.

Sigma Gamma Rho prepared a PowerPoint presentation showing various facts and comics that depicted how treacherous texting and driving can be. The sorority also showed a video of a car accident caused by a texting driver.

“So many people have lost their lives just because of texting,” Jones said. “We wanted to get the word out so people could do better and fix what they do wrong while driving. It could be a lifesaver.”

After the presentation was over, Jones said a few closing words and gave those in attendance a chance to sign a contract promising they would not text or do anything else distracting while on the highway.

There is no official law in South Carolina stating that it is illegal to text and drive, but Fields said it is a work in progress. He was happy to have been given the opportunity to share how important it is to be a safe driver.

“Be mindful,” Fields said. “Turn your phone on silent, pull over to talk or text if necessary, or let a passenger answer.”