Kent Crowell, a Midland ISD teacher and Teens in the Driver Seat® (TDS) teacher-sponsor, was recently instrumental in the new texting-and-driving ban instituted in Midland, Texas, on October 1, 2015. Midland is the forty-first Texas city to enact such an ordinance.
Under the new law, drivers can no longer legally view, send, or type a text message while driving within Midland’s city limits. “This is not the strictest ban in the state, comparatively speaking, but it’s a good start,” says Crowell.
The ban passed unanimously after three council meetings, all of which were addressed by Crowell and Robin Stalling, executive director of Bike Texas. Crowell’s Op-Ed was published August 10, just ahead of the meeting where the ordinance was passed. He researched multiple sources for the piece, including a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI’s ) Center for Transportation Safety titled An Investigation of the Effects of Reading and Writing Text-Based Messages While Driving.
Crowell, a teacher in the in the Midland Alternative Program, has used education materials, which are provided free to schools, from TTI’s TDS program for three years to educate his middle- and high-school students about the dangers young drivers face. TDS is a national, award-winning, peer-to-peer outreach program aimed at educating teens about the top five driving risks for teen drivers. Texting while driving is a primary distraction for this age group.
“Working at an alternative school with kids who’ve gotten in serious trouble at their home school, I’ve come to reward them for good behavior. TDS items—like pencils, bracelets and stickers that carry teen driver safety messages—are great prizes,” says Crowell. “I just want teens to think in terms of accident prevention.”