By Beth Hunolt
On Wednesday, August 26th, at 12:30 pm, twelve members of the Arrive Alive organization met in front of the Knox County High School to listen to guest speaker, Sergeant Brent Bernhardt of the Missouri State Highway Patrol address to them the dangers of text messaging while driving. “It’s just not a safe driving habit,” stated Officer Bernhardt. Other community members of law enforcement were present to help encourage the importance of not texting while driving and safe vehicle procedure; those officers were Edina City Police Officer Howard Smith, Knox County Sheriff Mike Kite, and Missouri State Trooper Zachary Harrison.
The new state law prohibits drivers from the age of 21 or younger from using electronic messaging while driving. This includes writing, sending, and reading text messages behind the wheel. The new law goes in effect Friday, August 28, and is a primary offense, meaning if a law enforcement officer sees you using electronic messaging while driving they can pull you over. Violators of the new law could be fined up to $200.
Tana Akright, Community Relations Specialist for the Missouri Department of Transportation introduced Sergeant Bernhardt to the students and congratulated the representatives of the Arrive Alive Program with their regional win and state recognition of the Battle of the Belts. (A statewide competition between Missouri high schools to see which group of students influences the most drivers to buckle up.) Mrs. Akright also presented the school with its own “Don’t Text and Drive” sign Principal Andy Turgeon on behalf of the students of Knox County. Superintendent Leverton was also there in support of the students and to help promote the safe driving tips.
Ten of the twelve young students admitted to texting while driving, but in light of the new law students, some students suggested having a passenger text for you while you are driving. The students who represented the Arrive Alive group included; Kurtney Tourner, Joshua Clark, Athena Wolter, Kaley Sutton, Tori Yoakum, Bianea Dunn, Shelby Bailey, Whitney Dixion, Suzanne Howerton, Adrinne Hamlin, Lance McMahon, and Stacey Leckbee.
The Arrive Alive representatives also took this opportunity to adorn the school’s driveway with spray painted signs on the pavement reminding motorists visiting the school to fasten their seat belts and practice safe driving.