Your child’s health: Distracted driving

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CHAGRIN FALLS –The State Highway Patrol reminds us to keep our eyes focused on the road --- as April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  Another thing to keep in mind,  it's against Ohio law for drivers under 18 to use a cell phone when driving.  In today’s “Your Child’s Health” report, some teen drivers found out just how well they would deal with distractions when behind the wheel.

Injury Prevention Specialists from Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital are putting some Chagrin Falls High School students through some "Science of Attention" drills. They are seeing if they can do two tasks at once, like tossing bean bags while spelling words or hitting lights while adding numbers. “It shows like you can't multi-task as well as you think you can.  Like you are going to have slower reactions, or mess up on some of the problems,” senior Sawyer McGuire said.

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RB&C Injury Prevention Specialist Jennifer Walker wants teens to think about that when they get behind the wheel. "Your brain doesn't do two things at once.  It switches back and forth.  And, you might switch back and forth very quickly so you feel like you are doing two things at once.   But, you are actually switching.  And, in that little switch is where things slow down and you make mistakes,” she added.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found teens are involved in distracted driving fatalities more than any other age group of drivers.  More proof that distractions and driving don't mix. “Relating multi-tasking to driving, I never have really thought about, so that really opened my mind -- related to texting and driving, even simple things like changing the radio or putting on makeup.  I learned a lot about how much three seconds taking your eyes off the road can affect you," senior Ali Magyros said.

Distractions can be visual, manual or cognitive -- like taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off driving.   Texting while driving is an example of all three of those distractions.  So, the resounding message for teen drivers: focus on the road, not the phone.  "Focus on the one task at hand, which is driving and let everything else wait,” Walker said.

Sawyer found the multi-tasking drills to be an eye-opener.  "I am definitely going to think twice before I do something like texting and driving. I definitely going to be safe and pay attention to everything when I am behind the wheel.  It's just not worth the risk,” he said.

The Injury Prevention Specialists from Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital will do “The Science of Attention" demonstration at any school and at any time of the year.  It was just timely now since April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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