Fourth Graders Present Case Against Texting & Driving

Reading project turns into campaign involving local police.

A reading support specialist at the  and her fourth grade students decided to turn a persuasive writing assignment into approaching an issue that affects the whole community, especially at — the problem of driving and texting.

"They worked with the local police department to identify an issue that needed attention, which was texting while driving," said Sloane Castleman, an instructional support teacher specializing in reading.

About eight fourth-grade students were involved in researching the topic before sharing the posters and the essays with the community, Castleman said. For example, she said one of the posters is at McGrath's Paint & Hardware off Hills Drive in Bedminster.

The students also spoke at a school assembly in April, she said.

The project came about, Castleman said, because "I was experimenting with a research-based approach to learning called Service Learning."

The students brainstormed on how to address that problem using our curricular goals and objectives and talents as fourth graders. "The kids researched texting while driving online and then composed persuasive essays in an effort to convince teens and adults to stop reading and sending texts while driving."

"The kids became so passionate about this topic that we actually invited a group of Ridge High senior high students to our classroom so that we could share thier essays and talk with them about the dangers of texting while driving," Castleman said.

All of the students involved produced a poster, and approached a local business with a request to post it at that location, she said. The students also produced essays.

Two are below: 

Essay by Michael Davidson, Mount Prospect School

According to the Bernards Township police department, texting while driving has become a big problem in Basking Ridge. These are some facts about the devastating consequences that may happen if you use your cell phone while driving.

To begin with, distracted driving is a factor in 25 percent of all car accidents, costing about $230 billion dollars a year in damages. Many states have banned texting while driving because of the financial and personal cost.

In New Jersey there are laws against texting while driving. You may get a ticket if caught by a police officer. You may also get fined. This law took effect in 2008 to make our streets safer. Many people admit that ignoring your cell phone while your driving is hard to do. But I have good news. Did you know that there is a new application that you can install on your mobile device? The app senses when the car is moving more than 5 miles an hour and disables texting its capability. This app may help if you have a teen that sends or reads texts while they drive. 

Finally, the police in our town are particularly concerned about the number of teens that text while they drive. Fifty-five percent of student drivers say it is easy to text while they drive with one hand but the statistics show that this is not true. Teens are four times more likely to get in an accident if they are talking or texting. If you are under the age of 21, you are prohibited to use a handheld device while you drive. Did you know teens that are texting while driving spend 10 percent of the time out of the lane they are suppose to be in? Your life is more important than a silly text!

Do you text while you drive? It does not only put you in danger it puts the people on the road in danger. It also puts people that bike or even walk a pet in danger. I hope this will make you think twice about what you are doing.

Essay by Julian Janeczko

Have you ever picked up your MP3 player and adjusted it while you’re driving?  Have you ever picked up your phone and looked at a text message while you’re driving? If you said “yes” to either of these questions or if you know anybody who does it, tell them to stop! It’s too dangerous for them. It’s not only dangerous for them, it’s dangerous for YOU. Now I will tell you some facts that you could tell other people to help them make the safe choice!

Teens are 23 times more likely to get in a car crash if there texting while driving. More than 10,000 accidents happen each year involving teens who were distracted while driving! In fact, teens are more likely to crash doing anything that distracts them like putting on makeup, texting, eating, drinking and changing the radio. One piece of advice I’d like to give adults would be to download an application called -“SafeTexting AR” for your teens.  It disables their phone’s texting capabilities when the car is moving. If you look online, you’ll find other applications that do the same thing, like www.getizup.com. That is one way to keep your teen safe.

Texting while driving is dangerous for adults too. In fact, almost 8,000 accidents occur every day due to distracted driving. You are twenty times more likely to crash if you are texting while driving. Also, adults are more likely to crash if they are talking on the phone!! So, adults should download the “SafeTexting AR” for themselves as well.

The traffic safety laws in New Jersey are really important. The distracted driving fines are high, so please stop!! The law says that you have to keep two hands on the steering wheel at all times. You can make emergency calls but if it’s not an emergency then wait or pull over.

I told my mom that I worry about the fact that she is texting while driving and I told her about the app and she is thinking about downloading it on to her phone.

This is a very big issue in Basking Ridge so I hope that my essay can make a difference for all of us.




Mike May 04, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Seen online: "Honk if you love Jesus. Text while driving if you want to meet Him."
Erik Wood May 05, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Nice work 4th graders! I think this effort will help these young future drivers get the message. It has to start with the end user, the driver...deciding not to partake in distracted driving and this will help drive that message home. I also decided to do something about teen (and adult) distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool for teens and their parents called OTTER that is a simple, GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences call ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws. Erik Wood, owner OTTER app do one thing well... be great.
Endjin May 10, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Julian, i will take your advice. Together we can find the application and download it. Love MOM
Dawn Davidson May 10, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Great Job Michael!
Gabriela Wojcik May 11, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Thank you, Julian, it is important to learn all this while you are young, so it will become your lifestyle. It proves also, that adults can learn from children as well. Thanks for reminder. Your aunt Gabriela


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