"There's always that urge that when the phone is ringing, to reach down and grab it and look at it while you're driving," North Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin said. "We're telling you the message today is not to do that."
As part of its Texting While Driving Campaign that will target schools across the state, troopers arranged a makeshift course using traffic cones and showed students how difficult it can be to text and drive. Students used a golf cart to negotiate the course while texting.
"The risks are so high," said Enloe student Monica Mann. "Why would you risk all the passengers' lives and your own life just to text, when you could just finish it when you're done driving?"
According to the Highway Patrol, a teen can create and send a text message in 10 to 15 seconds. Driving 60 mph covers more than 80 feet per second, and one text could equal a tenth of a mile that a motorist is not paying attention to driving.
State law already prohibits drivers under age 18 from using cell phones and texting.
A law that takes effect Dec. 1, however, will ban all drivers from text messaging or sending e-mails while driving. It will still be legal, however, for adult drivers to make calls.
A conviction could result in a $100 fine and court costs.
Last year, 140 teenage drivers were killed on North Carolina highways – many while students were on their way to and from school.
Thursday's program was part of the Highway Patrol's broader initiative aimed at reducing fatalities and collisions among teen drivers, "Operation Drive to Live."
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