Nothing on your phone is worth dying for.

That in a nutshell is the message of the new Williamson County Schools (WCS) safe-driving Checkpoints Program.

On Wednesday, at the county’s Public Safety Building, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and WCS held a joint press conference to discuss their recent safe driving efforts, a needed response they feel after six current or very recent WCS students died in the last 18 months in car accidents.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney spoke about how impacting it is to go to a student’s funeral, and the desire to do more to prevent unsafe driving.

“We care about our school family,” he said. “We started a task force with the goal of being as proactive as possible to come up with out-of-the-box solutions, to talk about this very important issue of distracted driving and increase the driving safety of our students.”

Looney outlined the schools’ four-pronged approach:

-All new student drivers, in order to park on school property, this school year need to pass a one-hour distracted driving course, highlighting the dangers of distracted driving. Within three years, Looney said, this will apply to all, not just new, student drivers.

-Engaging parents in dialogue about distracted driving; Looney stressed the primary importance of parents getting the message across

-Partnering with the WCSO and their SROs to interact with students and put out Public Service Announcements

-Working with the county Juvenile Court System. In the year from July 2016 to June 2017, the Juvenile Court saw 700 driving offenses in 533 cases in the county.

“Please put the phone down until you are able to do so safely,” Sheriff Jeff Long said.

Long also lauded the importance of and guidance given to students by the WCSO’s School Resource Officers, at least one of whom is permanently assigned to each school.

“I want to stress the importance of their presence,” he said. “They try to get their attention and get them to just think about the results of distracted driving and what can happen. Take the time. Put it down. Make your call, text at a later time.”

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