Tea Area juniors and seniors learned about the consequences of distracted driving at an assembly Feb. 22.
Tim Weidenbach, director of Higher Power Sports in Parkston, S.D., travels around the state talking to students about the dangers of distracted driving, particularly using phones and driving.
Weidenbach has been talking to students about distracting driving since his cousin, Andrea Boeve, was hit and killed by a driver using his phone who drifted out of his lane and hit her and her two children while bike riding. At his presentation, he showed a video that interviewed Boeve’s husband and the distracted driver.
He also brought along Boeve’s father and some of her aunts and uncles to talk to the students.
Weidenbach noted one in four accidents are from texting and driving. Seventy-seven percent of teens think they can use their phone while driving and it won’t affect their ability to drive. In adults, it is 55 percent.
“When you’re on your phone, at least 10 percent of the time you’re driving outside of your lane,” Weidenbach said.
He noted the driver who was on his phone when he hit Boeve said he was on his phone for just a second. In reality, his eyes were on his phone for 12 seconds.
“What if you’re on your phone and you’re distracted and you’re sending the best Snap Chat you’ve ever had and you hear a thud? Do you know what it is? You have no idea. Your eyes are not on the road. The only way to figure it out is looking in the rearview mirror,” he said.
High school principal Collin Knudson said this assembly is one of many assemblies developed through the district’s counseling department. Weidenbach also spoke to ninth and 10th graders earlier in February. He noted they will continue their safe driving campaign with simulated machines this month.
“TAHS students felt that having family members present made it more real and left more of an impact. It was a very emotional assembly and we’d like to thank Tim and the Boeve family for taking time to express themselves and show TAHS the importance of being safe when driving,” Knudson said.
Weidenbach noted he has given the distracted driving talks more than 50 times and it never gets easier. Boeve’s father, Bill, said there was a 100 percent chance that this accident did not need to happen but it changed their lives forever.
In the video, Boeve’s husband talked about kicking the habit of using a phone while driving.
“Is that phone thing more important than someone’s life,” Weidenbach said. “It’s a habit. You can change the habit.”