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(KUTV) St. George announced Tuesday the start of a large-scale public awareness campaign called “Heads Up Thumbs Up,” which focuses on stopping distracted driving.

“You can’t be texting when you got your hand on the wheel and you got your thumbs up,” said St. George Mayor Dan McArthur.

The multi-media campaign will utilize social media and traditional media to encourage drivers to take an online pledge promising to keep their eyes and thumbs away from cell phones and other electronic devices.

“There are people that are losing their lives, there are families that are being impacted because of distracted driving,” said St. George Police Chief Marlon Stratton.

As part of the “Heads Up Thumbs Up” initiative, Chief Stratton says officers will be conducting enhanced patrols looking specifically for distracted drivers.

“We will issue warnings,” Stratton said. “But the time will come where we will issue citations for distracted driving.”

Speaking at a press conference about the new campaign was Leslee Henson, whose husband, David, was killed in March when the couple was struck by a car while walking on the sidewalk.

Leslee was also injured in the accident, which police later determined was caused by a texting driver. Since the accident, Leslee says her family has been on a quest to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

“Way to go, St. George City. Thank you so much for leading the way,” she said about the new campaign. “It’s my hope that every city in the state of Utah will jump on board.”

The “Heads Up Thumbs Up” slogan is the brain child of St. George Police Officer Mark Biehl.

“Being on the street, I saw it as an issue,” Officer Biehl said of distracted driving.

Biehl researched what other cities were doing to combat the problem and discovered that grants were available to pay for public education and extra patrols to stop distracted driving.

“They’re preventable accidents,” Biehl said. “If people would just put the phone down, quit doing their makeup, quit eating, all that kind of stuff, these accidents wouldn’t even happen in the first place.”

Biehl presented his ideas to city leaders and is excited to see the campaign launched.

“We’re all in this together to make the roads a safer place for everyone to drive,” he said.

St. George-based Sorenson Advertising is lending its expertise to the campaign free of charge. The company developed all aspect of the initiative, including the logo, website, and social media presence. The company says there will also be T.V. and radio commercials.

“All the work that’s being done is now coming from the heart,” Sorenson Advertising CEO Erik Sorenson said of working on the pro-bono campaign. “We’ve got to take the responsibility and we’ve got to keep each other safe by not driving distracted,”

To take the “Heads Up Thumps Up” pledge or to learn more, visit: www.headsupthumbsup.com

 

By Ladd Egan