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Teen Leaders Learn Dangerous Lesson About Texting And Driving

MAPLE LAWN, Md. (WJZ) — National studies show that those who text and drive are 23 percent more likely to get in a crash.

Now, as Mike Schuh reports, school leaders from across the state are getting that message loud and clear.

The most dangerous thing these teens can do is get behind the wheel of a car. Almost half of teen deaths are due to car crashes.

“A lot of our student athletes are driving home, learning to drive for the first time, driving home from practices,” said Andy Warner, Assistant Director, Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

That’s why at a statewide conference for athletic high school leaders sits a very special simulator.

They don video goggles, are told to drive and then given the one item which will make all of them eventually crash: a phone.

They’re told: “In this setting, go ahead and try. Just try to text and not crash.”

The simulator is not rigged to make the kids crash.

“It was pretty hard. I don’t normally do much stuff while driving, so just having the phone in my hand while driving was difficult,” said Jacob Spessard, Frederick High School.

“It was hard when you’re looking down. There’s no way you can look at the road,” said Sarah Ruzzi, Broadneck High School.

And their learning is real.

“Just keep your phones off. You’re just putting everyone else at risk, including yourself,” said one girl.

The teens who were at the exercise are leaders. The hope is what they saw will be passed on to those who follow.

One of the instructors told the kids that some people put their phones in the trunk to avoid the temptation to initiate or return texts or phone calls.  Texting and driving is illegal in Maryland.

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