Ken Spurlock is receiving a lot of odd glances lately when he hands cash to store clerks. That’s because he’s is sporting a sassy hue of red polish on the thumbnail of his right hand.
The principal of the Canyons Technical Education Center wears the red paint proudly in support of his cosmetology students who have joined the national “Red Thumb Reminder” campaign to curb distracted driving.
The initiative, started by a Colorado man whose uncle was killed in a texting-while-driving accident, urges men and women to paint one of their thumbnails red so they are reminded, every time they pick up the phone, not to text and drive.
Armed with their bottles of red polish and cards that explain the effort, the CTEC cosmetology students are visiting all of Canyons District high schools and others in the Salt Lake Valley to spread the word and paint a few nails. Last week, the aspiring cosmetologists spent lunch periods at Jordan High, painting dozens of student and teacher thumbnails.
Among the students who is brandishing a bottle of red polish for the campaign is Alex Wright, a CTEC cosmetology student who on March 29 was seriously injured by a driver who reportedly was using her cell phone at the time of the accident.
“This is going to change some lives,” says Wright, who is sporting a pink cast on her right arm, which was broken in the accident. “Red means stop. You have to use your thumb to text or even swipe a cell phone. When you see the red thumb, it’s a sign that you should stop and put down the phone.”
Wright’s broken arm has hindered her ability to cut and style hair for now. Her boyfriend, who was driving at the time of the accident, suffered a broken pelvis, tailbone, back, collarbone, jaw and nose. He won’t walk for several more months.
Yes, she says, it only takes a few seconds to text, put on makeup, change the song, or grab a fistful of French fries. But a lot can happen in those few precious seconds, Wright says. Cars swerve. Lights change. Children dash into the street.
“You don’t want this to happen to you,” she says. “Change before it changes your life forever.”