Scars serve as permanent 'texting and driving' reminder

Ashley was injured when she crashed her car while texting and driving.

The scars on Ashley Marriah's face and forearm show what she's been through, but they also show what she's fighting against.

On July 11th, 2011, the 20-year-old from Greenville was driving to pick up her mother from the airport when she tried to send a text.

"I looked up and the concrete barrier was really close on my left," said Ashley. "I swerved right but a car was there. I swerved left, and my SUV fishtailed then began to flip."

When the accident was over, Ashley's car flipped seven times.

"I'm lucky to be alive."

Forty-three states have laws against texting and driving in place or scheduled to be law. South Carolina is not one of them.

With the help of Subway Restaurants and the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Ashley is taking her story to high schools around the state to advocate against texting and driving.

"I think it hits home for them because they see me and realize I'm just like them, and it can happen to anyone," said Ashley.

For a week now, she's spoken to students of driving age. In front of more than 750 Socastee High School students Thursday, she asked them to take a pledge to abstain from texting and driving.

"Teens have a few years driving experience," said Highway Patrol Lance Corporal Sonny Collins, "And we know they text very often. I think this way we can let them know the dangers without hearing it from one of us."

Subway sponsors the "W8 2 TXT" campaign that asks teens not to abbreviate their lives.

"I'm guilty of it myself," said Lynn Bailey with Subway. "But my wife's gotten on to me about it and I stopped because I know the dangers."

If someone crashes while texting and driving, South Carolina records the reason as driving while distracted. There are no records to say how many wrecks were caused specifically by texting and driving.

According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Study, drivers who send text messages while driving are 23 more times likely to crash.

"It takes about four seconds to send a text," said Collins. "If you're driving 70 mph on the interstate, you've traveled the length of a football field. We know a lot can happen over the length of a football field."

During the presentation, Ashley showed pictures from her time spent in the hospital. The pictures show Ashley with bandages over her head and eyes swollen shut.

"I still have gravel in my arm," said Ashley.

Those grim images left their own mark with students.

"It scared me," said sophomore Jennifer Demoor. She signed the pledge less than ten minutes after the presentation.

"I tell my friends all the time to stop texting and driving," said sophomore Nigel Valentine. He signed the pledge as well. "I know some kids will sign the pledge and still text and drive. But if just some decide against it, I think that will make a difference."

The Subway group is asking high schools around the area to make their own pledge to stop texting and driving. Any high school in the Myrtle Beach/Florence area with the largest amount of pledges at the end of April will receive free subs for the entire school.