Oneonta students and community members will have an opportunity to take a pledge today to stop distracted driving.
The effort is a follow-up to a program last year to make students aware of the dangers of texting while driving and other distractions, Oneonta Principal Thomas Brindley said.
Two tables will be staffed in the main hall of the high school from 11:20 a.m. through the end of the day. The initiative allows students and others to take the “Eyes Forward” pledge, which calls for people to promise not to text or be otherwise distracted while driving. In return, they receive a green wristband provided by WBNG.
Brindley said that while he was planning the event, he learned of the program sponsored by WBNG and others. He contacted the Binghamton station and they provided the 600 pledge forms and a similar amount of wristbands to remind wearers of their promise.
Brindley said he undertook the effort because: “I feel compelled to do what we can as a school community to keep them (students) safe. If we can raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving, hopefully they will refrain.”
He contacted the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office and Oneonta police, who agreed to participate.
Southside Mall manager Louisa Montanti said she will be attending as part of the mall’s partnership with the sheriff’s traffic safety programs. It helps get out the important message that includes the dangers of distracted driving, she said, and the mall will be hosting a table about traffic safety issues next week.
Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. said he will also be providing a deputy to assist. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes, he said, and “we want to stress the importance of avoiding such dangers to beginning drivers.”
Oneonta police Chief Dennis Nayor said his department will also be represented. It’s important to bring attention to a problem that is becoming more prevalent in society, he said.