Victim warns Vt. teens about dangers of texting while driving - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Victim warns Vt. teens about dangers of texting while driving

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COLCHESTER, Vt. - Nearly three years ago, Debbie Drewniak was hit by a car driven by a teen who was texting and driving. It left Drewniak brain damaged and dependent on others to live her life. She was struck by Emma Vieira, who was sentenced to 30 days in jail, probation and community service.

"Using a cellphone while driving was deliberate and intentional. She hit me deliberately and intentionally," Drewniak said.

Drewniak now spreads the word about the dangers of texting and driving. An assembly was held at Colchester High School Friday, alerting young drivers to put the phone down and to keep their eyes on the road. Drewniak, who struggles to speak, needed some help to get her point across. Friend Ellen Sklar read Drewniak's words: "This girl broke nearly every bone in my body including my neck."

Drewniak's life is forever changed by a distracted driver. To prevent tragedies like this from happening again, schools are doing what they can to alert students to the dangers of texting behind the wheel. In addition to the assembly, a demonstration of what can happen when you drive distracted was staged for students. Educators and emergency officials hope the message sinks in.

"I'm in driver's ed right now and they talk a lot about no texting and I'm certainly never going to do that," said James Comi, a student.

At least a couple of students left with something to think about.

"I just got my license and I found it very informative, especially hearing Debbie's story. It makes it more relatable," student Rachel Buckley said.

While Drewniak continues to go through physical and speech therapy, she will remain a part of the "It Can Wait" anti-texting and driving campaign.

"Don't use your cellphone while you're driving. Shut your cellphone off," Drewniak said.

Vermont banned texting while driving in 2010. This week, the Legislature passed a ban on any use of a cellphone while driving. The governor plans to sign it. It's expected to go into effect in October.

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