WELCOME TO SPRINGVILLE — Ryan Miller is pictured with Springville-Griffith Institute High School Principal Vincent Vanderlip, WGR Sports Radio 550 talk host Sal Capaccio, S-GI senior Kaleigh Wagner and the rest of the student body. Photos by Dave DeLuca, Jared Owen and Jessie Owen.
SPRINGVILLE — AT&T teamed up with Buffalo Sabres Goaltender Ryan Miller, to conduct a presentation at Springville-Griffith Institute on March 14.
Miller visited Springville, in part, because of a contest, sponsored by AT&T and the Buffalo Sabres, which was won by S-GI senior Kaleigh Wagner.
The S-GI artist designed a goalie mask that Miller chose, out of those entered. Wagner was presented with the mask, during a Sabres game last season, and visited the locker room, where she got her photo taken with the Olympic silver medal goaltender and Vezina Award winner.
DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU — Ryan Miller and Sal Capaccio watch the screen, as AT&T’s “The Last Text” plays for students, during an S-GI High School assembly.
The March 14 high school-wide assembly focused on the dangers of texting while driving. AT&T’s program, “It Can Wait,” is a national endeavor that encourages drivers to pledge to never text and drive.
AT&T organizers arrived at Springville-GI to meet with students, who were invited to try a digital driving simulator that provided a virtual environment, in which to experience the “dangers and consequences of texting and driving, firsthand,” according to AT&T.
The company set up laptops and wheel pedal kits, for students to use. The high schoolers were invited to the former art room, where they navigated their way, through the digital streets, as they sent real-time text messages with their cell phones.
MEMORIES — Ryan Miller talks to WGR Talk Host Sal Capaccio about his childhood.
The simulator kept track of students’ speeds, reaction times and other factors.
Orchard Park AT&T Manager John Poissant, who watched students’ progress on the simulator, said that there were a total of two completers, out of the hundreds of high schoolers who attempted the simulator. Students were asked to complete five-word texts, while driving at speeds of at least 30 mph.
According to AT&T, each year, more than 100,000 crashes, involving drivers who are texting cause life-changing injuries and/or deaths. On-site representatives said that 77 percent of teenagers reported that they have seen their parents text and drive and 75 percent of young drivers said that texting, while driving, is “common,” among their friends.
GET INVOLVED — Springville Mayor William Krebs checks out the AT&T “It Can Wait” table, inside the Springville-GI High School.
Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to beinvolved in an accident than focused drivers. According to AT&T, while 97 percent of teenagers said they believe texting while driving is dangerous, 43 percent of teenage drivers admit they have still texted while driving.
A 2009 study done by “Car and Driver Magazine” proved that texting and driving impairs an individual’s driving abilities just as much as, if not more than, driving while intoxicated.
“Your eyes are still on the road when you’re drunk, as opposed to looking at your phone, while you’re texting,” Poissant said.
CAN I HAVE YOUR AUTOGRAPH? — Ryan Miller takes time out of his day to sign a jersey for an S-GI student.
Students were invited to join the more than 1 million others who have pledged to not text while behind the wheel.
AT&T and its representatives asked all drivers to join in taking that pledge, which is available at www.itcanwait.com.
Springville-GI High School students and staff members took part in an assembly, hosted by Miller and AT&T. Sal Capaccio of WGR Sports Radio 550 acted as the event speaker.
Attending students watched AT&T’s video documentary, “The Last Text,” which detailed real-life stories of individuals across the country who have lost loved ones or caused accidents, due to texting and driving.
Following the video presentation, Miller spoke to the students about the dangers of texting, while driving.
“We see this as a real epidemic. This is some dangerous stuff,” he said. “There are some certain things you have to put aside and handle them at a different time. Driving a vehicle, you get used to it and it becomes very common. You get in a car, a couple thousand pound vehicle, and you start driving around. It’s easy; turn the wheel; push the pedals. The case is, we’re fragile people and that’s a big, heavy machine, moving around. You have to be in full control.”
EYES ON THE ROAD — Springville-Griffith Institute students Jeff Baker (left) and Ryan Cordova attempt to drive, while texting, via AT&T’s simulator.
Miller, Capaccio and High School Principal Vince Vanderlip signed the AT&T pledge, in front of the entire student body, during the assembly. The pledge effort is part of AT&T’s stated goal of making texting and driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.
“I like to stay connected, but, the thing is, there’s a time and place for everything and I think if you’re in a vehicle, just go ahead, turn the radio on and focus on the road,” Miller said, pointing out that drivers take on important responsibilities, when getting behind the wheel.
“I think it’s a very real thing and I hope you understand,” he said.
“You watch those emotional stories. Losing someone in your family and someone that close to you is very real.
“We had a situation in our family, not through a loss like this, but we lost my cousin to cancer and I can tell you, when someone is taken away from you it’s going to feel horrible. It’s going to feel tragic and it’s going to stay with you. You don’t want to have to learn those lessons.”
After recognizing the students who were decked out in Sabres gear, Capaccio asked Miller questions regarding the athlete’s life on and off the ice during a question and answer session with the hockey player.
The event concluded with questions that were asked by students in the audience.
“It’s very simple. Hey, it can wait a little bit. It can wait,” Miller said, of the dangers behind texting and driving. “Very simple words. Just go ahead and keep that in mind.”