If you text and drive, don’t worry about Yorktown High Schooljunior Elizabeth Brennan judging you: After all, she used to do it, too.
But after beginning to research the accidents and injuries associated with the practice as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project, Brennan, 16, said she changed her tune.
“Once I went online and i looked up all the different accidents and how quick and simple it really can be, I changed,” she said.
The Gold Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive and typically includes a large-scale community service project.
Brennan, working with the Yorktown-based Alliance for Safe Kids on the project, has put together a poster board that she trots out at town events like Yorktown Community Day to educate her peers.
Brennan said the Alliance for Safe Kids was looking for someone to tackle texting while driving and was thrilled when she was signed up for the task.
She’s also worked with the Yorktown Youth Court to help promote the initiative.
But the dangers of texting while driving are not just a young person’s issue, she said.
“I think it really affects both teenagers and older people,” she said. “It’s not just kids my age doing it. It’s really the adults, too, which is surprising.”
Brennan said her education initiative has been very positively received by the Yorktown community, specifically by older citizens.
“Even when I’m out driving, I see people around me that are texting while driving,” she said. “While I was at Community Day, a lot of people approached me about the issue and that they almost got into accidents while driving.”
Brennan said pedestrians who text can be just as bad of a problem, as they often don’t realize their surroundings because they are distracted.
In addition to the poster board she used for community events, Brennan has also conducted a poll of students on their texting and driving habits. She’s also taken photos of her friends posing as if they were texting and driving — promotional shots she uses to help underscore her message.
“Hopefully that’s getting people to know what it looks like,” she said.
Brennan said she hopes New York joins states like Pennsylvania in enacting bans on texting while driving, a practice that she said would act as a deterrent for drivers.
“I would totally, definitely be for that,” she said.
Next up for Brennan is working with the Yorktown Police Department and visiting health classes at Yorktown High School to discuss the initiative further.
It’s hard work, but she said she knows her cause is important.
“Texting has really been a new issue, and no one has really brought it up,” she said. ‘It needs to be more of a concern.”