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New program at Eureka High School discourages texting and driving

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EUREKA- Tuesday was a special statewide enforcement day for law enforcement agencies on the lookout for cell phone users behind the wheel. 

It was also the first day of a new program at Eureka High School designed to keep students from texting and driving.

According to authorities, there were more than 400,000 hand-held cell phone and texting convictions handed down to Californians in 2013. 

The first ever Red Thumb Reminder was held at Eureka High School on Tuesday in an attempt to lower that number moving forward.

The Vice President of Communications for the Eureka High School Parent Teacher Student Association, Wendy Davis saw a Youtube video two months ago that she wanted to implement at Eureka High School.  In the video, Colorado resident Steve Babcock paints one of his thumbnails red to remind himself not to text and drive if he feels compelled to.  

You can watch the video at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_pBO-KJfJQ

"A lot of times, you get information, you hand out pamphlets, you try and verbally tell people what the dangers are.  But something tangible, something you can see, like a red thumb nail, it brings it to a different level," said Davis.

So the Eureka High School PTSA are holding the Red Thumb Reminder this week.  Students are getting their thumbnails painted red, learning distracted driving statistics, and pledging not to text and drive.  The program is soomething some students are taking seriously, even ones not old enough to drive.

"It reminds you every time you reach down for your phone, every time you're about to send a message, every time you just pick up your phone in general, it reminds you that dozens of people are probably dying a day because of car accidents related to texting and driving," said Henry Wotherspoon, who is a freshman at Eureka High School.

"We're actually seeing more young adults involved in texting and driving accidents than drinking and driving.  And that's a scary thing.  That means it's a huge problem," Davis said.

Authorities estimate more than 3,000 people died of traffic accidents involving at least one distracted driver in 2012.  But reducing this rate can only be accomplished by changing peoples’ attitudes, one person at a time.

"It's getting awareness. It's making people aware of the dangers of it.  And if somebody walks up to you and asks you, 'Why is just one thumbnail painted red?' And you have that conversation with them and they think about it the next time their phone makes a sound in their car and they don't pick it up and they don't read it and they don't text back, we might have just saved a life," said Davis.