This afternoon, I went to Rhode Island's Westerly High School to talk about DOT's campaign against distracted driving.
The great thing about our time together is that most of the Westerly students understand that texting or talking on a cell phone behind the wheel is dangerous.
Unfortunately, many of them admitted they do it anyway.
Now, that is no slight against Westerly at all. Because that contradictory and deadly behavior is being repeated by young drivers across America.
If it weren't, we wouldn't be reading about the tragic outcomes of this recklessness in each day's newspaper.
We wouldn't be reading about the death of kids like Concord, Massachusetts' Jordan Cibley, who crashed and died while talking to his father on his cell phone.
And we wouldn't be reading about the death of parents like motorcyclist Anita Zaffke of Illinois, who was killed by a driver who was distracted while painting her fingernails. Painting her fingernails!
I told the students at Westerly HS about these two deaths, and about the thousands of deaths--100% preventable--each year due to distracted driving. And, when I discussed these consequences and the lengths DOT is going to in order to end this unsafe practice, I think they saw that this is not some isolated behavior.
Rather, it's a national health crisis they now know they must have a hand in stopping. So, when I asked them to stand up if they would help me stop this deadly epidemic, it was no surprise to see all of them jump to their feet.
Now, all they need to do is put that device away. All they need to do is focus their eyes and minds on the road. All they need to do is just drive.
That's a start. But, as our nation's schools begin to let out, and young drivers are logging more miles behind the wheel, I hope the students at Westerly and across America will take this campaign a step further by making sure their friends and family members also drive focused.
Thanks for listening, Westerly HS, and thanks, Senator Reed, for making today's important conversation possible.