'Pull over: Stop texting and driving'
Andy Leibenguth/Times News Local youth and employees donated $750 dollars to the LVHN 'Stop Texting" campaign after learning about the serious dangers of texting while driving. Pictured from back left are youth organizers Brendan McGowann, Anthony Pilla, Taylor Mele, Abby Pilla, Emily Pilla and Jordan Weber. In front, from left, are Tamaqua Chamber of Commerce executive director Linda Yulanavage, LVHN Annual Giving director Heather Ennis and Skipper Dippers owner Joe Pilla.
"Pull over. Stop texting and driving."
That is the message local youth are trying to spread to teach drivers, young and old, the real dangers of texting while driving.
They are working together with Skipper Dippers Dairy Bar and Grill in Hometown and the Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) via the network's 'Stop Texting' campaign.
After hearing about statistics regarding texting and driving, Anthony Pilla, Taylor Mele and fellow Skipper Dippers employees decided to find ways to spread awareness to the dangers of texting and driving.
To get their life-saving message out, the youth are using Facebook, online videos, contests, road signs, newspapers, magnets, radio interviews and even renaming a number of ice cream sundaes using acronyms.
After being approached by the youth, Skipper Dippers' owner Joe Pilla helped them create a special sundae menu, which used acronyms.
The new idea raised $750 for their new local 'Stop Texting While Driving" campaign, which they decided to donate to the LVHN 'Stop Texting' campaign.
In addition, the youth spent time creating a related online video. According to the LVHN website, about 6,000 Americans die every year in car crashes caused by distracted driving, cell phone usage being the greatest distraction.
Studies indicate that talking on a mobile device quadruples your risk for a crash, raising it to the same risk level as driving drunk.
"If you're text messaging, you are eight times more likely to crash," says health network trauma surgeon Robert Barraco, M.D.
The site also offers a free smart phone application that automatically replies to incoming texts with a message that lets the sender know you are driving and you'll get back to them when it is safe.
Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured according to the NHTSA.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website states that drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
Pilla, Local 'Stop Texting' campaign youth coordinator, said that people who talk or text while they drive put themselves and others at risk.
"Using a cell phone while driving, whether it's hand-held or hands-free, can delay a driver's reaction, resembling characteristics of someone having a blood alcohol concentration at .08 percent," said Pilla.
Visitors can also visit the Skipper Dippers' Facebook page and the LHVN 'Stop Texting' campaign website at www.CellLimitF0.com to view more facts, get a 'Stop Texting' magnet, watch message-driven videos, read stories and other related testimonials.