‘It Can Wait’

‘It Can Wait’

Arkansas Newspaper Foundation sponsors teen editorial contest

Arkansas Newspaper Foundation We are happy to announce that the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation (ANF), Local newspapers, and AT& T will again sponsor and challenge Arkansas students, ages 14-19, across the state to write an editorial or opinion column highlighting the dangers of texting while driving and encouraging their peers to take the “It Can Wait” pledge.

As you know by covering vehicle accidents and tragedies in your community, distracted drivers are dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2012, driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes – with 3,328 people killed – and crashes resulting in an injury – with 421,000 people hurt. 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.

Ninety percent of teen drivers say they would stop if a friend in the car asked them and 78 percent say that they are likely not to text and drive if friends tell them it is wrong.

Last year, we had entries from across the state: Hatfield, Fort Smith, Greenwood, Clarksville, Paragould, Wickes, Cove, Salem, Mena, Ozark, and Grannis. We hope that even more counties will participate in the program this year and encourage safe driving practices in their community.

Last year, the winner of the “It Can Wait” editorial contest was from Fort Smith. She received $500.00 in prize money, an elegant lunch at the Little Rock Club with AT& T leadership, a personal tour of the Capitol and, as a special treat, a private meeting and photo with Governor Asa Hutchinson.

She later submitted her editorial to the Ben Carson Scholar Award Program and won an additional $1,000 in scholarship money.

The ANF is also looking for local sponsors.

Sponsors might include the following: insurance agencies,, cell phone stores, medical centers, emergency services, dentists, doctors, car dealerships, police and fire departments, school board, chamber of commerce, etc. Sponsors must not include businesses that sell and promote adult material, tobacco or alcohol related items, etc.

For entry, sponsor and other information about the “It Can Wait” essay contest, or to download materials online, visit www.arkansaspress.org/pa ge/anfessaycontest.

From Karen Brown