Making a firm call on texting and driving

PETRICE TARRANT
Last updated 10:30 24/06/2014
Text driving campaigners
Fairfax NZ

GET THE MESSAGE: From left, Tokoroa sisters Jade and Renee Beale and friend Arianna Ashworth are campaigning to prevent future text-driving accidents. After her car was hit by a texting driver, Renee suffered numerous broken bones and needed a leg reconstruction. Her sister was also seriously injured.

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Every time Jade Beale stands up to convince her audience that texting and driving can kill, she relives her own nightmare.

But that hasn't stopped her from spreading the life-saving message.

Beale has just completed her 100th presentation in the North Island. In 2012, the school teacher was one of three friends involved in a serious car accident, where they were hit by a texting driver.

The driver died, while Beale, her sister Renee and friend Arianna Ashworth were left seriously injured. All three have been campaigning against texting and driving since then.

"It is hard work mentally to go through it all again and again, but if we hit one person [every presentation]. my job is done," Beale said.

She said the biggest challenge had been getting big companies on board and changing their health and safety practices.

It boiled down to the fact that often, people had to learn the hard way, she said.

"I think that people don't seem to change how they act unless they are involved in something serious, like I was."

But after witnessing how anti-drink-driving campaigns have affected public perceptions, Beale is determined to battle on. "Drink-driving is seen as taboo now, and I don't think that texting and driving is seen like that yet.

"Eventually we are hoping to get in touch with Parliament to get the laws changed."

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- Waikato Times

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