Texting, distraction blamed for teen traffic deaths

PARKER, Colo. - Texting and emailing while driving still play big roles in accidents among teens.

A new report from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention shows 41 percent of adolescents who drive admit to texting while behind the wheel in the last 30 days. In some of the States surveyed, as many as 61 percent of high school drivers say they've texted while driving in the past month.  It was most common among white teens, with 46.7 percent of them doing it.

The South Metro Fire Safety Foundation and State Farm Insurance are teaming up to provide teen safe driving classes twice a month for anyone wanting to take part, including 17-year-old Jordan Summers, who said driving is a big step in growing up.

"It's like freedom, kind of.  Once you have your own car, you don't really need your parents for a lot of things anymore, "said Summers.

Like many teens her age, Summers admits she's played with her phone while driving before.

"Mostly to change the music because I plug my phone in for my music," said Summers.

But that split second, can make all the difference.

"The last fatal accident we had in Lonetree, a gentleman was adjusting his stereo and that's all it took," said Sgt. Tom Vermilye with Lonetree Police.

Vermilye said with so many distractions, it's easy to lose focus. He said in these classes, no-one is allowed to have a phone with them. It's a good reminder that cellphones can be one of the biggest distractions while driving.

"I look over and you just see the top of people's heads," said Vermilye. "You know what they're doing. They're playing with their phone."

Vermilye said driving is 90% mental and 10% physical. As a law enforcement driving instructor for the last 17 years, Vermilye said he teaches the teens the same exact driving skills as they teach police officers.

For Summers, she said this class has changed how she'll drive in the future.

"I won't touch my phone!" said Summers.

There are two classes offered each month.  They also have a refresher class just for Senior drivers.  For more information go to: www.southmetrofoundation.org.
 

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