Wendi Briggs didn’t know her husband’s second cousin, who died in a car accident two months ago. But hearing that the crash was the result of cell-phone use shocked her.
She remembered that feeling when she was given a class assignment at ETI Technical College. LaToya Littles, the instructor of Briggs’ Oral Communication class, told her students they were to give speeches.
Briggs, 37, of Leavittsburg knew which topic she would write about. It was in researching the dangers of texting while driving that she read about Oprah Winfrey’s No Text Pledge. Oprah.com features a form anyone can sign to pledge that they will stop using their phone in the car. Briggs took the pledge and asked her classmates to do the same after she gave her speech. She gained 30 to 40 signatures, but she wanted to do more.
“I told my teacher I could do better than just the class,” Briggs said. So she canvassed other classes, her neighbors and local businesses. As of last week, she had 122 signatures. Briggs hopes to bring awareness to the issue of texting while driving because she thinks it’s a senseless reason to injure yourself and others.
“There are so many fatalities because of it,” she said. “I think people should just take a break. Things are so fast paced as it is.”
Littles plans to send the signed pledges to the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and gain recognition for Briggs and ETI Technical College. The National Safety Council estimated in January that 1.6 million accidents, 28 percent of all crashes, are caused by distracted drivers using cell phones. Of those 1.6 million, NSC estimates that at least 200,000 crashes are caused by texting specifically.
A bill adopted by the Ohio House of Representatives in March would ban texting while driving in the state, if approved by the senate. There is no current state law banning texting while driving in Ohio, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though 30 other states have such laws in place. Briggs, who is an only child, said she often gets text messages from her mother while driving, but will pull off to the side of the road to reply.