For most Pasco High School students, pedaling the little pink tricycles was difficult enough.
Throw in typing up a text on their cellphone and wearing vision-impairing goggles while weaving those trikes through a series of safety cones just put it over the top.
Several students took up the challenge by Pasco High’s DECA club members during Tuesday’s lunch periods. Many eventually gave up pedaling and resorted to using their feet to walk their trikes through the course. Several students hit the cones or other obstacles.
All of them appeared to concentrate hard to just get through the course.
“It’s really funny and gets kids to laugh,” said sophomore Destiny Torres, 16, adding that it’s only a game on the surface.
“If you can run into a table while texting on a tricycle, imagine what would happen if you’re in a car,” she said.
Campaigns aimed at stopping young drivers from texting and driving have become commonplace with the rise of mobile devices. Trios Health has been active in Tri-City high schools, distributing rubber thumb bands marked with an anti-texting message the students can see on their finger while driving.
If you can run into a table while texting on a tricycle, imagine what would happen if you’re in a car.
Pasco High sophomore Destiny Torres
This year, the hospital district handed off the campaigns to the students. That has resulted in more individualized efforts, from surveys and student-made public service announcements to a fundraiser and T-shirts.
“They’ve all got different things, different ways of communicating,” said Lisa Teske, spokeswoman for Trios Health. “They know what works.”
How many car crashes in the Tri-Cities are caused by distracted driving, which includes texting and driving, is unclear. The National Safety Council reports that 11 teens nationwide die every day as a result of texting and driving.
More than 3,100 people were killed in distracted driving-related crashes in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation.
Many states, including Washington state, have passed laws aimed at prohibiting cellphone use while driving unless a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth-powered headset is used. But accidents continue to occur, particularly among younger drivers.
“Unfortunately we see far too many preventable accidents in our (emergency room),” Teske said.
Putting students in charge this year provided learning opportunities when it came to organizing a campaign and working with others, Teske said.
The National Safety Council reports that 11 teens nationwide die every day as a result of texting and driving.
The students approached three local businesses — Roasters Coffee and the Kennewick franchises for Costa Vida and Little Caesars — about offering deals or discounts for students wearing their thumb bands.
The schools took different approaches after that.
Kennewick High School conducted a student survey on texting and driving, using the results in campaign materials, and issued T-shirts.
Richland High School students created video public service announcements broadcast at school and will issue special pledge stickers for student parking permits.
Chiawana High School plastered the walls of its commons area with posters warning against texting and driving.
And Kamiakin High School’s fundraiser through Costa Vida will send a portion of the sales on April 13 to Cork’s Place, a program through the Chaplaincy that helps youth struggling with the death of loved ones.
I’ve yelled at my mom about it, I’ve taken her phone away.
Pasco High sophomore Kyle Bradley
The message is all the more powerful because it’s coming from students.
“We get a lot more credibility,” said Destiny, who is also the business manager for Pasco High’s DECA club. “Students learn better from other students.”
Of the dozen or so Pasco High students who participated in Tuesday’s tricycle races, it’s unclear if they were convinced of the dangers of texting and driving.
For sophomore Kyle Bradley, 16, the exercise just drove home how he already felt about it.
“I’ve yelled at my mom about it, I’ve taken her phone away,” said Kyle, who then gestured toward the course. “I hit every cone.”