Alaska Notebook: Wake-up call

January 28, 2014 

Wake-up call

For more than three years I have gained first-hand knowledge of the risks presented by cell phone users in school zones. I have volunteered as a crossing guard at Bowman Elementary School in Anchorage to cover the corner of Chinook Avenue and Gregory Road, where the school district has no crossing guard funding.

I have changed my behavior. The cell phone goes in my pocket and I do not take or make hands-free calls while in the school zone.

What caused this change for me? Two years ago I was rear-ended at 3:35 p.m. by a distracted driver with a cell phone in use. I had stopped quickly to avoid a child who ran in front of my car. The distracted driver did not see me nor did she ever fully grasp the fact that she would most likely have run over the child. She insisted the phone call was important.

More than several times I have seen drivers looking at their phones coming out of the parking lot. I have been able see the top of the drivers' heads as they were looking down while moving. They looked up at me and dropped their cell phones when I tapped their windows. There have been as many as 50 children in the area at those times.

Many times I have seen drivers fail to stop at stop signs even when directed, run over curbs where children wait to cross the street and make incorrect turns -- all while using cell phones.

The good thing is a majority have stopped using their phones or appreciate being reminded of the danger to our children and quickly stop.

The bad thing is that it only takes one accident to injure or kill one of our children and there are multiple cell phone users in our school zones.

Cell phone use in moving vehicles is the single most dangerous legal activity around our schools. We can give up 10 minutes of use or park to keep our kids safe.

Support SB123 and stop using cell phones in school zones. Cell phone use in school zones is unsafe at any speed.

-- David Wight

David Wight is a member of the Daily News guest editorial board, a volunteer crossing guard and former president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

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