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Simon: No texts are worthy dying for 

Southern Illinoisan
September 12, 2012
By Linda Rush

The message was simple: There is no message worth dying for.

“It Can Wait” is the name of a new initiative asking community college students to take a pledge against texting while driving.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and Illinois Department of Transportation officials were at John A. Logan College in Carterville on Tuesday to join AT&T Illinois in launching the program that has a simple goal — saving lives.

“Most community college students commute to class on a daily basis and need to understand the grave danger of texting while driving,” Simon told the gathering. “I’m taking the pledge today to never text and drive, and I encourage students everywhere to join me. When you are driving, put down your phone — it can wait.”

College President Michael Dreith welcomed the group to the Logan campus. He said the college will send an informational email message to students encouraging them to take the pledge by Sept. 19, designated by Gov. Pat Quinn as “No Text on Board” pledge day.

Jim Maurer, vice president of external affairs for AT&T Illinois, said the company has produced an 11-minute documentary, “The Last Text,” that dramatically shows what can happen when a driver is distracted by texting.

John Weber, director of traffic safety for IDOT, told the students in the audience, “It’s not just about you — it’s about your family” when a driver is involved in a fatal accident because of distractions. He said it’s tragic when a text message is the last communication family members have from someone who died shortly afterward in a traffic accident.

Weber, the parent of an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old, acknowledged that texting can be a big part of people’s lives. But taking the pledge to ignore the phone while driving “frees you, gives you some down time and alone time without distractions,” he said.

Just as drinking and driving is no longer seen as acceptable behavior, neither should texting and driving be tolerated, Weber said.