The best 17-year-old Kelli Murray could do to text while steering a golf cart was “I pledge allegiance to the glag of the united stew on smelt divide and the repulsive for.” The exercise was part of Caddo Parish Sheriff’s hands-on seminar, educating teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, which is the most common cause of car accidents in the United States, accounting for nearly 20% of all accidents.
“The funny thing is, I thought I was a good texter,” Murray said, who also plowed over some traffic cones during the drive.
Texting while driving is the most dangerous form of distracted driving, since the minimum amount of time it takes a person’s eyes off the road is five seconds. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s enough time to travel the length of an entire football field if driving 55 miles per house.
According to the Ad Council, “a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver.”
To make matters worse, 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 that were involved in fatal accidents were reported as being distracted at the time of their crashes, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Drivers under the age of 20 also have the largest portion of motorists who were distracted.
After completing the difficult course, 17-year-old Emily Biernacki was flushed. Since the time she’s entered high school, she personally knew several teenagers who have died from being distracted while driving or being drunk while driving.
Both Murray and Biernacki said that those tragedies weren’t what prompted their classmates to discuss safer driving habits.
“No one says stuff about that,” Murray said. “It’s more like, ‘I can’t believe we knew them,’ not like ‘I can’t believe they were drunk.’”