A group of budding pre-teen scientists has come up with an idea that deserves recognition — the TEXTerminator. The brain child of a team of Bucks County middle school students from the Council Rock School District, the TEXTerminator shuts down a cell phone’s texting capabilities. Despite local laws banning texting while driving and its extreme dangers, 60% of teens and 50% of drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 admit to texting while driving. Distracted driving kills more than 6,000 Americans every year, accounting for nearly 80% of serious personal injury car accidents in Philadelphia and across the country, according to the National Safety Council. Find out more.
Talking on a cell phone is the equivalent of driving drunk. Texting is like shutting your eyes while driving drunk! When drivers talk or text on their cell phones, their attention is not focused on traffic and the road ahead. Distracted driving causes the reflexes of young drivers to slow to those of 70-year-olds. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, people who talk or text on their cell phones while driving are at least four times more likely to be involved in a serious personal injury accident. Texters, however, are 23 times more likely to crash, a recent Virginia Tech study revealed. Philadelphia banned cell phone driving and texting in December 2008 and added a hefty $75 fine in May 2009, but many Philadelphia residents, particularly those under 30, continue to ignore the dangers of driving and texting.
Pennsylvania middle schoolers are hoping to put a halt to that hazardous practice. Their TEXTerminator earned them a finalist spot in the national Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation competition, a government-sponsored contest that seeks to unite community service with scientific problem solving. The winning team will receive $25,000 to help turn their invention into reality. Over the contest’s 14-year span, five winning teams have earned patents for their ideas. Here’s hoping these innovative Bucks County students are next!