A driving course teaches teens about driving distracted - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

A driving course teaches teens about driving distracted

By  Julie Straw - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Parents and teens saw first hand how distractions can affect driving Thursday afternoon. It was part of a special challenge at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. 

In the Jackson Metro area there has been a recent rash of accidents involving distraction.  These distractions while driving can have deadly consequences.  Two weeks ago motorcyclist Bill Loften was struck by an SUV driven by a 16 year old.  According to witnesses, the teen was texting at the time.

"Mississippi ranks very high in teen driving fatalities per capita and what that basically means is on any given day in Mississippi a number of teens are at risk," said Allstate Insurance spokesperson Allison Hatcher.

For that reason Allstate is traveling from city to city, 38 in all, across the U.S. to show parents and teens the dangers of driving while distracted.  A course marked with cones and inflatable wrestlers named "Louie" is mapped out. 

With a driving instructor as my passenger and a camera monitoring my every move I tried it out.  The first run through I brushed a clip a couple cones, but made it through the course.  After checking all the mirrors I alerted others that I'm backing up to start again.

The driving course was pretty challenging by itself.  It became more difficult when I added a distraction by using the cell phone.  While talking on the phone I ran over several cones and then while backing up I hit and deflated a "Louie."

"You were driving one handed.  Your thoughts were somewhere else because you were concentrating on that conversation.  What happened?  You backed over Louie back there.  In reality that could be a person out there," said Allstate Driving Instructor Jeff Maher.

The teens also tried it out.  Their results were the same as mine.

"I missed a cone, hit some people, all of the above," said Bailey Magnet High School student Brittany Harris.

We all learned that even a minor distraction can have major consequences.

"It definitely will make me think twice about my surroundings and people and stay focused on the road," said Harris.

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