Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Using Innovation to Combat Texting While Driving

The following is a guest post by Doreen Zacher, New Milford High School's Student Assistance Counselor.   She recently collaborated with graphics teacher Walt Pevny and NMHS students in the U Got Brains Challenge 2nd Annual Champion Schools Program. Their efforts resulted in NMHS being selected as a champion school in the battle to stop students from texting while driving.  NMHS is now competing against other champion schools for a driving simulator.

Distracted operation of a vehicle occurs when the driver is engaged in non-driving activities, which hinder their overall ability to operate the automobile in a safe manner.  While all distractions can endanger the overall safety and well being of occupants, texting and the use of cell phones are by far more prevalent.  “Twenty percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.  Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes)” -NHTSA.

New Milford High School wants to assure that our students arrive safely at their destinations and do not make a fatal decision to use cell phones while behind the wheel.  New Milford High School was an active member in the 9th Annual “Get It Together” Challenge.  The “Get It Together” challenge was a local competition between high schools designed to increase seat belt usage.  The faculty and administration championed this competition to assure the safety of all New Milford students, families, and community members.  There were two unannounced checks for seat belt compliance.  The first was September 28th, 2011 and the second was October 6th, 2011.

To continue our dedication to the overall safety and well being of our students, and community members, Mr. Walt Pevny developed the “Safe Box” which was entered into the “U Got Brains Competition”, sponsored by the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey.  This revolutionary device helps to promote “text free” driving among teens.  Upon entering into the automobile, the students place their cell phones into the “Drive Safe Box”, the phone will be automatically charged and the student will not be able to remove the phone.  The driver will be unable to text or use the phone with hands; however they can still utilize and enable their blue tooth systems.  The “Drive Safe Box” can only be opened from the rear with a key, which has been attached to their car key ring.

Mr. Pevy’s multimedia class is developing a “Public Service” video on the dangers of texting while driving (to be included with every product sold).  Also, his Advanced Desktop Publishing class will develop a “marketing campaign” for the product (ads, brochures, website, etc.)  The prototype will be manufactured by Dr. Asa Awuku and his engineering club.  New Milford High School has received notification that the “Drive Safe Box” was selected as one of the top ideas and was awarded the $1,000 stipend to develop our product.

“Let’s not have a life stolen from us, use the DRIVE SAFE for a safe and hands free environment.”

Besides the initiatives listed above NMHS has joined a campaign sponsored by My Parking Sign and received two FREE signs seen below (pictured are Doreen Zacher and Walt Pevny).  These signs will be placed on two areas of our campus where they will be clearly visible to our student drivers.


  1. The safe box sounds like a great idea. However, the most aspect of it is student participation. Parents need to talk to their kids about the dangers of distracted driving.

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