Missouri Press announces AT&T It Can Wait winners
Natalie Schaefer, 16, a junior at Jefferson City High School in Jefferson City, Mo., and Addison Ganey, 13, an eighth-grade student at Trinity Lutheran School in Jefferson City, Mo., are the statewide winners of the It Can Wait (no texting while driving) Essay Contest, sponsored by Missouri newspapers, the Missouri Press Association (MPA) and AT&T Missouri.
Natalie will receive $1,000, while Addison will receive $500 as first prizes in the contest’s high school and middle school divisions respectively. Their essays were submitted to the state contest after being submitted to the Jefferson City News Tribune’s local contest.
“Our goal is to share and reinforce this simple message – keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone. While many tragedies are out of our control, the ones caused by smartphone driving distractions are completely preventable,” said John Sondag, president, AT&T Missouri. “I want to thank the Missouri Press Association for leading the way to help educate students and I want to thank all of those who took the time to participate in the contest. By working together, we can help change behavior and make our Missouri roadways safer for everyone.”
This is the fifth year Missouri newspapers, MPA and AT&T have teamed up for the contest.
“On behalf of the Missouri Press Association and its member newspapers, I wish to thank AT&T for this partnership aimed at saving lives on our roadways,” said Jeff Schrag, president of MPA and publisher of The Daily Events in Springfield. “The essays are excellent and sobering, urging all drivers to avoid texting while driving.”
Newspapers are encouraged to publish the winning essays.
Natalie, the daughter of Laura and Michael Schaefer, will be awarded $1,000, while Addison, daughter of David and Gina Hale-Ganey, will receive $500 when they and their guests visit the Missouri Press Association headquarters Dec. 7, in Columbia. Their day will include a tour of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and dinner with representatives from the school, newspapers, AT&T Missouri and MPA.
Each day in the United States, more than nine people are killed and more than 1,153 people are injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver, John Sondag of AT&T said. Texting drivers are much more likely to be in an accident.
Despite knowing the risks of texting while driving, 43 percent of teens admit to texting while driving. However, there is an opportunity to change this behavior, Sondag said. Ninety percent of teen drivers say they would stop if a friend in the car asked them, and 78 percent say they are likely not to text and drive if friends tell them it is wrong.
Drivers are encouraged to take the pledge to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phone at ItCanWait.com