Too Often For Teens, Distracted Driving Is Deadly

Prowl Staff photo

Prowl Staff photo

Joseph Walkins and Kurt Acosta, News Reporters

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 Prowl photo by Brandi Strother

 

On May 10, Weston Ranch juniors learned about the Number One killer of America teens: distracted driving.

Eating fries, drinking a Coke, putting on lip-gloss, or listening to music loudly can all affect the overall perception of a driver and hinder their ability to pay attention to the road.

Like the Every-15 Minutes event held earlier this year, the purpose was to open students’ eyes to the possible consequences of unsafe driving practices.

Whereas E-15 focused on drunk driving exclusively, the May 10 assembly, hosted by the state advocacy agency, “Impact Teen Drivers,” focused on the broader subject of distracted driving, to which teens can easily fall victim. Impact’s site can be found on http://impactteendrivers.org/. Speakers also used information from http://whatdoyouconsiderlethal.com/.

Of course, texting or talking while driving are two of the greatest distractions to a driver.  

Impact’s Education Outreach Coordinator, David Aaronson, who led the assembly, said that “about three-fourths of crashes are from distractions,” and that, “One-fourth are related to drugs or alcohol.”

In fact, according to Impact Teen Drivers, 4,000 teens die each year from car crashes with another 400,000 suffering injuries each year.

Aaronson also told students about a tragic incident where a teen was killed in a crash and three others were severely injured after the driver playfully swerved the car in order to keep up an atmosphere of fun. He told students about the spider web of those affected by the death of the star-athlete teen. Those affected included parents, friends, families of such friends, the school, and the entire community.

What did these students have in common?

“Nobody got in the car thinking it could happened to them,” said Aaronson.

The last story told was deceptively simple – about a teen driver who took a second to glance at a text and ended up hitting and killing a man walking alongside the country road in Nipomo.

At first, the driver, Maria Coyner, believed it to be nothing, and continued home. It was only days later when police took her out of work that she realized her grave mistake.

To the surprise of many, Coyner then made an appearance on stage to speak to students directly. She told of how she was a “normal teen,” and knew of the dangers of distracted driving. She warned that anyone is vulnerable to distracted driving and that should a crash result, the consequences could be life-changing. All it takes is glancing away from the road for just two seconds to skim over a new text message.

“Are you home yet?” That was the text. They are four words that will remain in Coyner’s mind forever.

Coyner told juniors how the incident changed her life. Even after serving time, with a felony on her record, finding her work is difficult. Coyner said now, as a felon, she can never fulfill her dream to become a veterinarian. So, although Coyner lived, her life was changed in the fateful moment she became a distract driver.  

 

 

Safe Traveling Tips – What Can You Do?

Speak Up When You Feel Unsafe – Whether Driver or Passenger

Buckle Up Property Every Time

Make Good Decisions in the Car Every Ride

Source: Impact Teen Drivers, www.impactteendrivers.org

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