By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Senior Project Plea - Don't Text And Drive
Riverbank High School seniors are asked to complete a senior project as part of their graduation requirement and the task is quite extensive. While not every senior has to do one now as in the past, Jackie Hernandez is one senior who decided to try and make a difference, by focusing her project on getting people to stop texting while they drive.

Technology continues to change our lives and adds complexity as well as ease. Along with drinking and driving remaining a problem, it seems that texting and driving has become an issue as well.

"Many lives have been taken away with this little error of texting and driving and I would want to open some people's eye on the dangers it can cause," said Hernandez.

According to the Riverbank High School senior project handbook, the project consists of selecting a project of interest, writing a six- to 10-page research paper with a career connection, spending 15 hours outside of school on the project, creating a portfolio of their high school life, and a presentation to a panel of judges. The judges are members of the community.

Hernandez has been focusing on law enforcement and Detective Mark Copeland from the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department has been her mentor. As far as a career goes, Hernandez has expressed working toward becoming a police officer. Her project, which has safety as its core issue, fits in with the career choice.

After spending an extensive amount of time doing research on the texting and driving issue, she created a board and listed some interesting facts and figures in addition to pictures to help tell the story. On the board she had different tidbits listed like, 23 percent of auto collisions involved a cell phone, 34 percent of drivers say they have texted on a cell phone while driving, text messaging makes a crash up to 23 times more likely, and teens who text while driving spend approximately 10 percent of their driving time outside of their lane. Hernandez was given permission to set up a table during lunch on Friday, Feb. 15 to collect pledges from her classmates to not text and drive.

The table had a big poster that had 'take the pledge' and 'don't text and drive' written in bold colorful letters. Next to that table was another table with her board of facts and four colored stamp pads. To take the pledge, one had to pick a stamp pad color, stick your thumb in it, and place that mark with your signature on the sign. Several students and school staff approached the table to give their pledge.

Hernandez has 100 signatures so far and is hopeful for many more. Since her classmates are starting to get their licenses and becoming new drivers, she believes in the need to inform them that by texting and driving "they are putting themselves and others in danger." The day was a success, but she would like to get more pledges. She would like to open it up to people in the community and has future plans to set up a booth at a local event to get the community to take the pledge.

"For those who did (take the pledge), I am proud and I am sure they will try to follow through with their pledge," stated Hernandez. "They will think twice before reaching over to get their cell phone while driving."