Hundreds of students signed "Don't Text and Drive" pledge

MIDLOTHIAN, VA (WWBT) - Around 2,000 James River High School students got a jarring look at the potential dangers of texting and driving.

Drive Smart Virginia and AT&T gave an emotional presentation sharing stories of people severely injured or killed in accidents caused from texting and driving.

One VCU student shared her story of survive a terrible accident after texting and driving, to warn other teens about the dangers.

VCU graduate student Priscilla Sherwood had one the scariest moments of her life while driving home her senior year in high school.

"It's definitely a physical and emotional struggle," said Sherwood.

She says she was speeding on a two-lane back road late at night and texted her dad to let him know she was on her way home. The next thing she knew, she came upon a curve, saw an animal cross the road, and tried to dodge it. Instead, she swerved and slammed her car straight into a tree. It totaled her car. To this day, she's still amazed she survived.

"It was a little surreal to me especially moments after the accident," Sherwood noted. "I remember sitting there thinking it hadn't happened-that I didn't just do that."

Sherwood walked away, but still has scars on her leg and painful memories from that terrible night. She urges high school students not to take that risk.

"I remember being that age and thinking it can't happen to me, that I'm invincible and I can do it. You hear bad stories and you never think it can happen to me," Sherwood added. "It can happen to anybody. It can happen to you."

Two-thousand students had a chance to sign a banner pledging not to text and drive.

"I feel like it will help people see -- not just hearing from teachers, but hearing from different people it's happened to," said senior, Alyssa Strickland. "They'll see what it can do to someone's life."

"It's going to be huge," said another senior Sam Hunt. "It's definitely going to have an impact on me and everybody."

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute says, on average, anyone who texts and drives takes their eyes off the road roughly five seconds. At 55 mph, researchers say it's like driving the length of a football field completely blind.

Students learned they're 23 times more likely to crash if they send a text while driving. Sherwood encourages people to just wait until they're not in gear to send that message.

Many students say they have sent text message while driving in the past. After this presentation, they say they're changing their habits by signing the pledge to stop.

There's also an app on the Android market to keep people from texting while the car is moving. It's called "Life before text." It's a $3.98 app that could help save a life.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.