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Speaker warns of texting, driving

Kaitlyn Rabach | Thursday, April 26, 2012

Diveeta Thompson, an activist against distracted driving, spoke to students about the dangers of texting and driving Wednesday in the Student Center Lounge.

In the lecture, sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement, Thompson said drivers have a responsibility to themselves and to other drivers not to drive distracted.

“Driving is a privilege,” Thompson said. “Distracted driving affects not only you as an individual but also everyone else on the road.”

She spoke about the organization “Stop Texting AND Distracted Driving (STANDD)” she founded after she lost her son to distracted driving in 2008.

“My son Rodney was a senior in high school and had a lot going for him,” Thomspon said. “He was reaching for his phone one night because someone had texted him. He was getting ready to read a message and lost control of his car. He hit a utility pole and was killed instantly.”

Since the death of her son, Thompson said she has made it her life’s work to promote awareness about texting and driving.

“Unfortunately, it became my passion to stop distracted driving,” she said. “Every time a family is touched with this issue it rivets me. I am happy to lend my voice to the cause, and I hope you will all do the same.”

Thompson said it is important for individuals of all ages to join the cause but believes this is especially true for college students.

“Being young college students you have so much promise,” Thompson said. “You all have such a bright future ahead of you. Is it really worth the risk to text and drive?”

As part of the presentation, Lieutenant Tim Williams of the Mishawaka Police Department also spoke on the issue.

Williams said a person driving while using her cell phone has the equivalent distraction level of someone driving with a .08 blood alcohol content.

“When you are texting and driving you show the same signs that a person makes when they are impaired,” he said.

Williams said the consequences of texting and driving are more than just a $500 fine in the state of Indiana.

“If you are involved in a serious crash and we find out you were texting while driving you could face both jail time and hefty fines,” he said.  

He said any driver’s primary responsibility is to make sure he or she drives safely.

“As a driver your responsibility is to the safe operation of your vehicle,” Williams said. “It is not to the person on the other end of the phone or your passengers in the car.”

First year student Morgan Carroll, who worked with the Office of Student Involvement to invite Thompson to campus, said texting and driving is a serious issue.

“I think it is important to be educated on this issue because it not only affects you as an individual, but also everyone on the road,” Carroll said. “It is a real life problem, and I think that Thompson’s lecture did a wonderful job of bringing this issue down to a personal level.”

Thompson said she believes change starts with a voice. She has traveled the country lending her voice to the cause, and at the end of her lecture she asked everyone in the audience to lend theirs as well.

“Be a voice for us,” Thompson said. “Be a voice for my son. Save a life.”