Texting Driving Tests

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Friday, March 11, 2011 - 9:16am

Florida school test teenagers' ability to text while driving.

You've probably heard the warnings: texting while driving can make you as impaired as drinking and driving. Now, a Florida high school is hoping to get that message through loud and clear to its students by putting them behind the wheel with cell phones.

Put teenagers behind the wheel of any vehicle and there are bound to be distractions. But at Winter Haven High School, teachers aimed to make a very specific point about one distraction in particular: texting while driving.

Putting kids in golf carts, they drove a coned course once at full attention then a second time while texting on their cell phones.

The results worse, in some cases, than even students expected.

19-year-old Charnele Sterling says "it was really hard. I really don't text when I drive. It was really hard I got kind of emotional because I knew it could have been somebody's life that I took. "

Instructor Roni Durrwachter coordinated the effort with winter haven police and says even though this is often a tough age to get through to she's hopeful the message is clear.

Roni says "I really hope they see, when they run over a cone we say you just hit a pedestrian. They go off course, you're in a ditch. You know, so they hopefully will get an idea that it really cold happen to them."

It is hard to get these kids to fully appreciate the dangers. But according to a National Safety Council study, 28% of car crashes happen when someone is talking on their cell phone or texting while driving.

And it doesn't take any time at all to find kids who've had some frighteningly close calls from careening off the road.

16-year-old Ashley Whitley says "my neck was a little bit hurt because it was a full force slam. We were going the full speed limit, and it was full force slam into the fence. "

To near head-on collisions.

17-year-old Adonis Kirkland says "also we both could have died, the people in the other car and in our car. "

It's hard to say if an exercise like this will prevent future texting and driving but teachers say they have to at least drive home the point. As part of the exercise several Winter Haven High School English classes will now have to do research papers on the dangers of texting and driving and include their personal experiences on the driving course.
 

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