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Texting champ helps discourage texting and driving


THREE LAKES, WI (WSAU) -  The campaign to end texting and driving now has the support of the fastest text message sender in the nation. About 200 Three Lakes High School students will be encouraged to sign the “It can wait” pledge Friday morning.

One of their own classmates will be supporting the campaign. He’s LG U.S. National Texting Champion Austin Wierschke.  He says he learned about the texting championships from a television ad, and tried out... and he did extremely well.  "I did the preliminary rounds and I ended up advancing, and I became a finalist and made it to the New York City rounds where I battled it out against ten other people and won the title two years in a row."

It’s hard for most of us to imaging pushing so many buttons in a short period of time.  "6.5 characters per second, so 6.5 buttons pushed in a second.  I was really, really focused and in the zone, so it was crazy.  I couldn't believe it."

Wierschke says it may only take a few seconds to send a text message, but encourages his fellow students you just can’t drive and text.  He says he occasionally has to ask his friends not to text and drive.  "You're risking your life, you're risking the other driver's lives.  You need to put a stop to it."  He says he usually just offers to send the text on behalf of his driving friends.

The Three Lakes Senior is working with the Department of Transportation and the State Patrol among other sponsors to discourage texting and driving.  "I filmed a commercial that will be coming up next month, and that is also about the dangers of texting while driving.  I'm just very excited to be spreading the word on something so important nowadays."

Texting and driving has been illegal in Wisconsin for two years now. The fines and penalties are stiff, especially if someone is injured or killed in a crash caused by a distracted driver who was texting.

The 10:00 a.m. program at Three Lakes will include several participants including State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst), State Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander), Major Sandra Huxtable of the Wisconsin State Patrol, AT&T Wisconsin Director of External Affairs Robyn Gruner, and AAA Wisconsin Public Affairs Director Roy Hinz. There will also be a video presentation and the use of a distracted driving simulator.