In a town best known for its blueberries, 18-year-old Lindsey Giannini is planting a seed of a different kind. It’s the “Stay Alive, Don’t Text and Drive Sign Campaign.” Giannini hopes her campaign will speak volumes to all drivers, especially young people.
“At 55 miles per hour you are travelling the length of a football field blindfolded by texting because it takes your eyes off the road for five seconds per text,” said Giannini.
Giannini, who graduated from Hammonton High School on Wednesday, will compete in the Miss New Jersey pageant next week, with “don’t text and drive” as her platform. She first persuaded the town of Hammonton to adopt and install 30 signs promoting her important message.
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“People are losing their lives because they are trying to type on a phone while they are driving,” said Police Chief Robert Jones of the Hammonton Police Department. “It’s crazy.”
Since January, Lindsey has worked closely with Mike Kellenyi of Hammonton’s Highway Safety Systems. On April 15, his oldest daughter Nicole was killed in a car crash in Washington Township. Kellenyi was in the backseat of a car being driven by a friend. Investigators have not yet ruled whether or not distracted driving was the cause.
“Nicole would love it,” said Kellenyi. “She would think it’s the coolest thing in the world what her daddy is doing. Her life has already saved others because some people have told me they put the phone down because of her.”
“Seeing that family’s heartache has given me even more drive,” said Giannini. “He has been able to cope more because of it. It’s just so rewarding.”
On Thursday Giannini presented her “Don’t Text and Drive” campaign to the New Jersey Association of Police Chiefs. They voted unanimously to immediately endorse the campaign, meaning the signs will be installed across the state.
“I was ecstatic it was kind of a blur,” said Giannini. “It was just surreal. It was my dreams and my goals happening right in front of my eyes.”
Giannini hopes to win the Miss New Jersey crown so that she can compete in Miss America and push her campaign into the national spotlight. In the midst of the success of her campaign, the NJ Assembly Public Safety Committee voted 11-0 on a bill that would make it easier for someone to get a vehicular homicide charge or assault charge if they killed someone while talking or texting behind the wheel.