PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — A state agency is recognizing a group of high school students Wednesday after the team won a public service announcement contest between two Pflugerville ISD high schools.
The contest, My Road My Future, encouraged students to tackle texting and driving. Six students from Pflugerville High School beat out several other teams from their own school, as well as the winning entry from Hendrickson High School to take home the contest trophy.
Leaders at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), which manages driver safety courses around the state, is recognizing the students’ work Wednesday at its Driver Training and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee meeting.
The group that made the PSA said it’s an important message they wanted to get across to their classmates.
“It’s crazy how people just get so immersed in their phones, they don’t see where they’re going,” said Jacob Claxton, a PHS junior who helped create the winning entry.
The students used that idea to create the video, which ties distracted driving to something they knew their classmates would relate to: walking in a school hallway.
Watch the full PSA:
The video cuts between shots of a student in a car receiving text messages and two students walking through a hall with their eyes glued to their screens.
The PSA ends with the two students in the hallway running into one another with the sound of a car crash in the background. The screen fades to black, and as it fades back up, words appear over images of the students picking up their belongings: “If you can’t text and walk, why text and drive?”
Junior Michael Hornsby, another member of the group, said the scene of students crashing into one another because they’re not watching where they’re walking will be familiar to high school students.
“It’s definitely a problem,” he said.
But not enough people recognize that texting and driving is a problem. The Texas Department of Transportation reports distracted driving, which includes more than just texting, caused more than 95,500 wrecks in 2018, about one out of every five crashes in the state.
They resulted in 394 deaths and 2,340 serious injuries, the agency said.
“I know a ton of people who do it,” Hornsby said. “There’s adults here that do it normally.”
TDLR spokesperson Tela Mange said the agency appreciated the video, not just for its message about the dangers of texting and driving, but for how it was delivered.
“When the grown-ups are saying, ‘Don’t get on your phones; stay off your phone while you’re driving the car,’ you know, it’s just kind of the blah blah blah blah blah sound,” said TDLR spokesperson Tela Mange.
She knows from experience with her own daughter that teenagers will listen to friends before listening to parents. Her agency regulates driver’s education classes, and she says new drivers’ relative lack of experience behind the wheel, combined with a distraction like a text message, can be deadly.
“We’re hopeful that their fellow teenagers and fellow young drivers will listen to that message,” she said.
Hornsby and Claxton hope so, too.
“You need people who are in the age range to say hey guys, we do have a problem here,” Claxton said.