By EILEEN MCCLORY
for the review times
ARCADIA — It was almost 80 degrees on Friday at Arcadia Local Schools, and the middle and high school students had Kona Ices for lunch.
But something else was different this lunchtime: three Hancock County sheriff’s deputies, an Allstate agent, and a representative of the YIELD program were all there to talk to students about distracted driving.
YIELD, a national program, stands for Young Individuals Educating Local Drivers.
Deputy Matt Crouch, coordinator of the YIELD program at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, got students’ attention and spoke for a few minutes on the dangers of distracted driving. Then he invited students to the front to talk to deputies and sign a promise not to text and drive.
The sign was hung on the Arcadia cafeteria wall after the event.
Grace Wagner, executive YIELD adviser, Nancy VanWormer, an Allstate insurance agent, Deputy Shane Leeth, a school resource officer, and Deputy John Rank, executive YIELD adviser, all helped to present the program. Crouch said the program helps students understand the dangers of distracted driving, which can range from texting and driving to switching a channel on a radio to playing video games.
“Giving that information now can change the future,” Crouch said, because educating teens about driving can help future statistics.
Crouch said parents also can talk to their teens about distracted driving. Ask teens not to text and drive, he said, and tell them to pull over before making a phone call or a text.
Texting at a stoplight isn’t OK either, he said, because a driver is still not paying attention to surroundings.
Crouch said he will be giving the presentation at several Hancock County schools before prom.
Crouch said he will add in information about drunk driving, and talk about driving in weather conditions such as ice and rain during other presentations.
He said parents should talk to teens about drunk driving before prom. He suggested telling teens that while drinking isn’t a good plan, if a student is drunk it’s better to call a parent to come get them, rather than trying to drive home while drunk.
Students at Arcadia seemed engaged while listening to the program Friday, and many signed the petition.
VanWormer said the programs do help prevent accidents.
“Making people aware of the problem does help drive down accidents,” VanWormer said. “Awareness is the big key. None of us are invincible.”