Hempstead Town, Merrick Students Work to Stop Texting & Driving— Launch TV Ad Campaign to Boost Public Awareness

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray has joined forces with twin sisters from Bellmore John F. Kennedy High School and Cablevision to kick-off a public awareness campaign aimed at curbing the deadly practice of texting while driving. Standing in front of the high school with a large billboard emblazoned with the phrase, “Arrive Alive…Don’t Text & Drive”, Murray and the student founders of a local group called STANDD (Stop Texting AND Driving) unveiled their public awareness effort.  The Supervisor was joined by Emily and Anna Lawrence of STANDD, Councilwoman Angie Cullin, High School Principal Lorraine Poppe and a host of students from the school.

“Texting and driving is like taking a loaded gun, pointing it out of your car window and pulling the trigger,” said Murray. “We are here today to raise awareness of the dangers associated with texting and driving. After Emily and Anna Lawrence wrote to me, asking for the town’s help, I was enthusiastic to propose a partnership that will bring 386 public service advertisements to Cablevision viewers. Most important, this public awareness campaign will save lives and prevent accidents.”

Hempstead Town will spend $25,000 to air the 30 second advertisement, which will appear on 10 networks on Cablevision between the dates of June 16th and July 13th. What’s more, Cablevision will be furnishing additional airtime to broadcast the public service announcement free of charge.  Murray noted that the town produced the advertisement in time to be shown as high school and college students begin their summer vacation. The Supervisor indicated that young drivers were a key audience that Hempstead Town and STANDD are trying to reach with their public safety message.

“The money we spend on this public service announcement is money well spent,” announced Cullin. “If one life is saved or one accident prevented, we have achieved our goal.”

“I want to thank Cablevision for agreeing to furnish additional airtime to broadcast this public service announcement at no cost,” said Murray. “Their partnership will help us reach more people with this life-saving message.”

The students who founded the local STANDD organization, Emily and Anna Lawrence, have been tenacious in their effort to curb texting and driving.  The students have launched a “no texting and driving pledge” campaign, recruiting hundreds of their classmates to make a commitment not to text while driving. Anna and Emily said that they want to encourage drivers to “store it, before you start it,” asking drivers to put their phones in the glove box or console storage before starting their vehicles.

“We are excited to be working with Hempstead Town to get this important message out to the public,” said Anna Lawrence. “We want to make our communities safer for everyone, and end senseless deaths that are caused by texting and driving,” added Emily Lawrence.

Both of the high school students, Emily and Anna, appear in the anti-texting and driving commercial, along with a third Bellmore John F. Kennedy High School student, Allie Levy. The public service announcement, which was premiered at a public awareness press conference/television commercial kick-off event, featured the students driving and texting, unaware of a nearby pedestrian with a stroller. The powerful message communicates clearly the tragic consequences of texting and driving. Filming of the message occurred on a closed town roadway with Hempstead Town Public Safety Department supervision to ensure the safety of all of the participants in the commercial.

Texting while driving is responsible for 1.6 million accidents and 330,000 injuries each year. Young people are particularly vulnerable to texting while driving dangers, accounting for 13% of the car wrecks involving 18-20 year olds. Finally, texting while driving actually makes you 23 times more likely to crash.  

The public awareness campaign also features a large sign that will stand on Kennedy High School’s campus, alerting drivers with the message, “Arrive Alive…Don’t Text and Drive”. The sign includes a photo of Emily and Anna, along with their organization’s logo. The sign was produced by town workers. Murray and the students said that the sign’s message would be seen by hundreds of students every day.

“There has never been a more rewarding partnership than the one we have forged between Hempstead Town and STANDD,” concluded Murray. “Together we will make our drivers and pedestrians safer with an important public awareness campaign.  Remember, arrive alive, don’t text and drive.”