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Students take pledge for a no phone zone
RUMFORD -- As part of the Keeping Students Safe program, police and school officials are asking students at Mountain Valley High School to sign a pledge to make their cars a no phone zome.
Many have signed the written document that states "I will do my part to put an end to distracted driving by pledging the safest driving behavior."
They were asked to select three options -- one not to text while driving; two is not to text and will use only handsfree calls is he/she needs to speak on the phone while driving; three is not to text or use his/her phone and if need to use the phone, to pull over to the side of the road.
In addition, he/she was asked to ask other drivers they know to do their part to end distracted driving, and pledge to make a difference.
From 7 a.m. on Thursday morning Police Chief Stacy Carter, Capt. Daniel Garbarini, Detective Sgt. James Bernard and Sgt. Tracey Higley and MVHS Principal Matt Gilbert conducted a surprise safety stop in the school parking lot. They greeted students driving in, armed with 150 candy bars, all with stickers with the message, "Good choices equal good consequences."
Sgt. Higley said the bad news was that they ran out of candy bars, but the good news was that it did not appear that any of them had been texting or using their cell phones and all were wearing their seatbelts.
A day earlier, students were given another lesson by trying the seat belt convincer, thanks to Phil Tarr from Mid-Coast Emergency Management.
"Five miles per hour doesn't sound like much. Then try multiplying it," said Higley, who told the juniors and seniors looking on, "Being a distracted driver, texting and driving or drinking and driving, can cost someone their life."
Through programs like Click It or Ticket, Higley said they have done enforcement for years. But they've also done the education. "I know we've made some impacts in the past. They remember what you say...It's something we do because it can make a difference."
On Monday, the Keep Students Safe program had a totaled car from an operating-under-the-influence accident in the MVHS student parking lot to reinforce the program's message about what can happen when drunken or drugged drivers get behind the wheel and drive.
Today, Higley said he and a lawyer from Joe Bornstein's office in Lewiston will talk to students about current Maine laws that will affect them.
The program concludes with a bonfire and barbecue on May 30, after which participating students will be taken to Old Orchard Beach for fun and games.
McKenzie Paterson shuts her eyes for the 5 miles per hour crash that she knows is coming. Mtn. Valley High School students tried the seat belt convincer last Wednesday as part of the ongoing lesson from the Rumford Police Department and the school. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)