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Computer simulation allows teen drivers to "crash" safely

Texting while driving is a dangerous activity. Especially for a teen driver. The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) is working with high school students to raise awareness of the danger of texting and driving.

For young drivers, lack of experience can combine with a lack of awareness of the seriousness of the issue. For many teens, phones and texting have been something they have done for the majority of their life. They may have been given a phone by the parents when they were in grade school and they have carried it ever since.

They literally cannot imagine a world without instant communication with their friends, and when they transition to the role of driver, they may not understand the need to turn off the phone and put it out of sight. 

One senior commented that she believed she was a "fairly good driver," but then related how she had been driving in her neighborhood and noticed the light on her phone flash. She glanced down and during that instant, a deer jumped across the street in front of her car.

The car only "bumped" the deer, so no damage resulted, but the incident did highlight the danger posed by unconsciously checking a phone. Imagine if she had been driving at highway speeds.

That half second of inattention could have left her paralyzed or dead after a catastrophic accident. She promised to put her phone where she cannot see it now, which she should do anyhow, as it is illegal in Tennessee for a driver younger than 18 to use a cellphone in a vehicle, other than for emergencies.

Teen drivers need our help to recognize the danger of any distraction, whether caused by a phone, attempting to eat in the car, or using makeup, and parents and other adults need to set a good example by not engaging in any of those activities when driving with their teens.

The Tennessean, "Beech students get crash course in safe driving," Jennifer Easton, September 18, 2014

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