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Rye High Students' Art Combats Distracted Driving

Rye High freshman David Cirillo grew up around cellphones but never realized how dangerous they can be until more recently, particularly in the hands of drivers.

"I'm a lot more careful at crosswalks," said David. "Because you never know if someone driving is paying attention."

David participated in a poster contest sponsored by the Rye YMCA and the local Safe Routes to School Committee earlier in the school year, raising awareness about both "distracted driving" and "distracted walking." His work and that of his classmates was exhibited Tuesday evening at the Rye Free Reading Room.

The idea for the contest started with the Rye Safe Routes to School Committee, which advocates for pedestrian safety. Rye High photography teacher Nicole Chiffriller said she saw an opportunity to incorporate digital media into the project and put it to several of her classes to create posters using digital cameras and computer editing programs.

All the classes voted on the best posters, which were displayed at the Rye Y during the winter, but the Y administrators felt that all the posters should be seen and worked with the Safe Routes to School Committee to put up an exhibit in the library.

Rye City Manager Scott Pickup attended Tuesday's opening reception for the exhibit, and spoke about "distracted driving" as a problem perpetrated mainly by adults.

"Us adults have developed some bad habits," Pickup told students. "It's going to come from your generation to retrain our generation."

David Cirillo said he’s already working on that. Whenever he's riding in the car with his parents and he sees one of them pick up a phone while driving, he tells them to stop. Cirillo said they get a little huffy, but they listen.

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