PALMDALE – The youngest NASCAR-sanctioned driver in history spoke to a group of Palmdale High School students Tuesday morning on the dangers of texting and driving.
“Thousands of teenagers each year alone die because of this problem and I really want to try and limit that,” said Andrew Murray, 15.
As someone who drives over 150 miles per hour (mph) almost every weekend, Murray said nothing is more important to him than driver safety.
“When you guys are driving on the roads, nothing should be more important to you than driver safety as well,” Murray said. “Any distraction on the street could result in a serious life threatening crash that could hurt or kill yourself, your passengers, or pedestrians crossing the street minding their own business.”
This year alone, 350,000 teenagers will be treated in the hospital because of texting while driving, he said. That’s actually one in 30 teenagers in the world.
“Texting while driving is no joke,” Murray said. “That kind of stuff happens every single day.”
Murray showed a few short videos addressing the effects texting has while driving. They showed drivers endangering their lives, as well as the lives of others.
Murray added that for new drivers, it takes one second to respond to a situation on the road, but it takes about two and a half to five seconds to look at a text and back up at the road.
“In that time period at just 45 mph you could travel over two thirds of a football field and that’s only at 45 mph,” Murray said. “If you’re traveling at 70 mph, that almost doubles the distance we cover, just by looking at one text.”
Murray said this problem has affected him personally.
“When my mom was pregnant with me a bus driver rear ended her, and he was distracted looking at his cell phone, and it really put an impact on the family because it dislocated a couple discs in her spine and she’s never been the same since,” Murray said. “That was a big thing, and it’s lucky I’m even here right now. So I really want to try and limit that. I don’t want people to suffer.”
Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford presented a certificate to Murray in support of his message.
“We appreciate [Murray] coming to our community and giving a valuable lesson on texting and driving,” Ledford said.
Palmdale High School Principal Greg Nehen asked the students to think of the choices they make every day while driving.
“[Murray’s] message is a very potent and straight to the point one, and I hope all of you use this as an opportunity to think about the choices that you make in your cars,” Nehen said.
The Jacob Hefter Foundation’s “Don’t Text and Drive” vehicle was on display outside for students to sign their name on the car after making a pledge to not text and drive.
The foundation was created to educate people on the dangers of texting while driving, after Jacob Hefter was killed in a Metrolink accident in 2008. An investigation found that the engineer of the Metrolink had ignored a red light due to texting.
Students were encouraged to make the pledge to not text and drive.
“The choices we make every day could have serious ramifications,” Ledford said. “The adult population is just as capable of making mistakes and poor choices, and the message that we’re trying to convey to the entire city and to the entire antelope valley is the dangers of texting and driving.”
“Please don’t text and drive,” Murray said.