“It’s a good way for them to see what impairment really does to their reflexes, to their reaction time,” said Jennifer Walker of University Hospitals. “A ball rolls out on the road; there’s cars that cut you off.”
April is distracted driving awareness month and Shaker Heights police, University Hospitals and Shaker Heights High School are now teaming up for what they are calling “Traffic Safety Week”, leading up to prom and graduation season.
Sophomore Dartagnan Mitchell got hands-on time with a distracted driving simulator.
“Like, it was kind of weird. I’m trying to text and this is like weird,” he said.
Walker said a lot of teens think they’re great multi-taskers.
“They think they can text and drive with no problems. so its good to see them do the simulator and see how poorly they perform,” she said.
A roadster pedal kart helped students see how they drive sober, compared to drunk.
“Based off what I’ve seen, everyone is better off sober,” said sophomore Amore Raheem.
Motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death for teens.
“I mean, teens are the most dangerous drivers on the road, as it is just from inexperience. And then you add in things like distraction or impairment, and they are the No. 1 audience for this message,” said Walker.
While we’ve seen events like this time and time again, the statistics are still alarming. Teen drivers between 16 years old and 19 years old are three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than those 20 and older.
Cell phone usage while driving just became a primary offense in Ohio, but distracted driving has already been a primary offense in Shaker Heights for the past two years, with hundreds of drivers receiving warnings and citations.
While some Shaker Heights students aren’t even old enough to drive, Sgt. Greg Kerr said: “You know, the mother of all learning is repetition. And if we can get them while they’re 14 and 15 years old before they get their license, and then they understand what’s going on as they’re 16 and starting to drive and be on their own and see, ‘This is a little bit more than I thought it was.'”