Students Are Driving Force Behind Edinburg Texting While Driving Ban

Friday, November 9, 2012 - 9:07am

EDINBURG -  Carla Perez is a history teacher at Robert Vela High School. And on this election year, she wanted to show her students their voice matters.

"I wanted to get my students involved and teach them that, even though they are not 18 and can't vote they can still be involved and make a difference," said Perez.

So she asked her students what mattered to them and that issue was texting and driving. In the City of Edinburg, there was no law prohibiting the distracting act; a fact that upset students like Breanna Mata and Jacquelin Rodriguez.

 "It's the number one killer of American teens nowadays," said Breanna Mata, 10th grade student.

So Perez's AP class decided to make a pledge and get their peers to sign it. The pledge would be to not text and drive.

"It was really nice to see them, they were out collecting signatures during the lunches, saying hey do you want to sign this we are trying to get a ban," said Perez.

The students even went to the source of the problem, people they knew outside of school.

"One of the biggest things was like, my dad, he would always text and drive, and I couldn't stand it. So when she gave us the pledges I made sure he was the first one to sign," said Jacquelin Rodriguez, 10th grade student.

In no time, the small community service project grew, and City Commissioner J.R. Betancourt took notice.

In just three weeks, students collected 1,253 signatures. Each signature was a pledge from their fellow classmates, parents, teachers and faculty.

And soon, their demand for a change was heard when they decided to take their pledges to the Edinburg City Council. There the students spoke to the commissioners and got those pledges turned into law. In an unanimous vote, a no texting and driving ordinance passed.

"Well it just makes me feel kinda like, really good about not just myself, but the fact that we did this. Because it's not just for us, it's for everybody," said Rodriguez.

Police are standing behind this new law and these students, by already enforcing the law on Edinburg roadways.  

In just two months, a group of 15 year-olds brought real change to the community they call home. 

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