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“Do you see me?” and “Eyes up, phones down!” were two popular messages shared and depicted by Shelby Elementary students in regards to cell phone use while driving. The DUI Task Force, along with the Toole County Transportation Committee, will be presenting these messages, along with findings from a recent Community Health Assessment Plan showing the residents in Shelby are concerned about cell phone use while driving and feel that a ban on using handheld devices would benefit the safety of everyone, at the City Council meeting scheduled for Nov. 18.

Google maps, playlists, text messaging, cell phones have endless apps and people use them constantly, even while driving. A recent Community Health Assessment Plan showed the residents in Shelby are concerned about cell phone use while driving and feel that a ban on using handheld devices would benefit the safety of everyone. Shelby Elementary students are in total agreement.

“The school took a positive effort on protecting the kids and had them share what they want to say to drivers,” said Blair Tomsheck of the Toole County Health Department. “The kids wrote short notes to some of the drivers they witness most, the high school students they see driving past their playground on a daily basis.”

“Phones down, eyes up!” is a common phrase in most of the notes written by the students. The health department caught wind of what the students were doing and decided to use it to help push for a City ordinance that would ban the usage of cell phones while driving.

“It was presented to the City Council one other time, quite a while back, and was shot down,” said Tomsheck. “We are going before the City Council again and will be bringing this with us, it’s a push from the kids and we want to put it out there.”

The DUI Task Force, along with the Toole County Transportation Committee, will be making an appearance request to the City Council to propose the ban again during their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Nov. 18, at 6:30 p.m.

“The biggest push was the assessment plan,” said Tomsheck. “The community wants a ban.”

The youngest members of the community voiced their concerns and urged drivers to put down their phones and pay attention to driving and what is going on around them. Not yet old enough to drive themselves, the students are still well aware of the problems driving while on your cell phone can cause. Here is what they had to say:

“Put your phone down. It’s not worth it at the time. Kids are more important than your phone,” said Lila, age 10.

“Phones down, eyes up! I’m right here. Can you see me? Watch the road,” urged Nataliah, age nine.

“Watch out for animals and people,” and “You need to stop looking at your phone and pay attention to traffic” were other words of wisdom shared. Even more to the point, “Don’t text while driving, you will hit something!”

Cell phones have become an essential part of daily life for many, but appropriate time and place needs to be considered. Paying attention to traffic and your surroundings are key components while driving and Shelby Elementary students, along with the Toole County Transportation Safety Committee, want to ensure that drivers are paying attention, and not to their phones.

As tempting as it is to check that response to a text, or to check your Facebook at the stop sign, refrain. Your safety, and the safety of those around you, depend on you paying attention to what matters most at the time, and that is not your phone. Next time you find yourself reaching for your phone while you are behind the wheel just remember, “Phones down, eyes up! Do you see me?” You should see them and you can bet they are watching you!

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