Nearly 800 teenagers gathered Tuesday at a state summit on distracted driving and turned their eyes to a group of Oak Creek students.
seniors Alicia Compton and Didi Al-Zubeidi and sophomore Alex Schmidt, along with teacher Amanda Drews, led the day-long event in Wisconsin Dells, educating their peers on the dangers of texting and driving.
The students said they have seen too many close calls with accidents and friends who text and drive, and wanted to get involved with the cause to make the dangers more clear.
"A lot of my friends I knew texted and drove, so I wanted to make it known about the dangers so that people, especially teens, weren't texting and driving anymore," Compton said.
It's especially pervasive among teens, they said.
"I feel like it's becoming bigger than drunk driving," Al-Zubeidi said.
The three students are members of the school's Family Career and Community Leaders of America, a community service-oriented organization. They won the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for the National Teen Distracted Driving Summit and were charged to organize a summit in their home state.
Students in FCCLA groups from across the state attended the summit, which included an obstacle course and the viewing of a powerful documentary called The Last Text, which tells true stories of lives altered or ended by texting while driving.
The students signed a pledge to not text and drive and encouraged their friends and families to do the same. Wisconsin law prohibits sending e-mails or texts while driving and carries a fine of up to $400.
The Oak Creek students said they had never organized such a large event. Preparation took four or five months as they lined up speakers, including the president of AT&T Wisconsin and members of the Wisconsin State Patrol, arranged the obstacle course and researched statistics.
It all went off without a hitch.
"I think we got the word out there that texting and driving is really dangerous," Schmidt said.