Impact Teen Drivers

Northridge Teens Get Up Close With the Dangers of Distracted Driving

Northridge Academy High School on Monday was the focal point for kicking off a weeklong campaign against distracted driving among teenagers, CBS2 reports.

Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy teamed up with Impact Teen Drivers, the California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles Police Department to help young drivers get more responsible behind the wheel.

“Crashes are the number one killer of teens and 90 percent of crashes are due to human error,” Carolyn Duchene of Mercedes told CBS2.

One after another, students got behind the wheel and tried to navigate a course while being pestered by passengers. 

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Birmingham High students get crash course in distracted driving

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As part of a safe-driving program for teenagers, a group of Birmingham Community Charter High School student drivers Wednesday maneuvered a specially designed closed obstacle course to learn the dangers of driving while distracted.

They were part of a demonstration highlighting National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and California Teen Safe Driving Week. The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy, Impact Teen Drivers, California Office of Traffic Safety, the California Highway Patrol and the UCLA football team participated in the program. 

“This raises awareness. We’re placing them in a controlled environment,” Officer Edgar Figueroa said. “This time, they’re running over cones. But next time, it could be a person.”

More than 200 local law enforcement agencies will crack down on cellphone users on roads starting today and again on Tuesday, April 17 and 22.

For this exercise, the CHP set up a winding obstacle course in a parking lot where six students navigated the course free of distractions, including parallel parking and hard turns.

“The course alone was more difficult than what I thought it would be, but overall I think I did pretty well,” Birmingham High senior Isaac Moran said. “I didn’t hit any cones.”

“Parallel parking was harder than I was expecting,” added junior Alejandro Pezqueda. “Usually I do pretty good.”

The second ride was rife with distractions, with backseat passengers randomly blaring a radio, shouting random phrases and even shoving a stick of gum in the driver’s face. The student drivers flattened a number of traffic cones that they had easily avoided earlier.

“I don’t know how people drive with distractions on the road,” Pezqueda said after he finished the second drive. ”

Martha Tessmer, educational outreach coordinator for Impact Teen Drivers, and Jeri Dye Lynch both lost sons to reckless drivers, and were at the event.

Dye Lynch, president of Pinecrest Schools, lost her 16-year-old son Conor in October 2010 after he was hit by a distracted driver.

“Hopefully, this raises awareness,” Dye Lynch said. “Every day I see people driving distracted. The biggest distraction I see is people using their phones going down a busy street, like it’s not going to happen to you.”

Adam Poulisse, On Twitter @AdamPoulisse.

Distractions can be deadly for teen drivers

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The spring can be a busy time for teenagers with prom,graduation and graduation parties. Whatever the season, teen drivers are twice as likely to cause a fatal crash than all other drivers combined according to the Impact Teen Drivers Program.

The program, presented Monday night by School ResourcesOfficers in Oro Valley, teaches young drivers and their parents about taking responsibility on the road. Distracted driving is responsible for more teenage deaths than drugs and suicide, according to program organizers.

"Kids my age don't have the experience," said Jacob Benzenhoefer,who will apply for his permit next month.

His father, Mike Benzenhoefer, said he knew Jacob should attend the program as soon as he learned about it.

"I don't want him texting and driving," he said. "I don't want him on the phone. I don't want him around friends that are reckless."

Friends in the passenger seats are just as dangerous as other forms of distracted driving like cell phones and the radio, according to the program. The hope is to change the perception of distracted driving, like the appreciation for seatbelts that did not always exist.

"There needs to be a change in the culture," said the olderBenzenhoefer. "People of all ages are out there driving distracted because that's how they were raised."

Craig Reck. On Twitter @CraigReckNews)