Stopping texting while driving in Worcester, Mass.

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June 11, 2012, 6:08 pm
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(NECN: Kristen Doucet) - A special simulator has been set up at the YMCA in Worcester, Mass., meant to help teens understand how dangerous texting behind the wheel can be.

Drivers face risks on the road every day. AAA of Southern New England's Mary Maguire says texting while driving should not be one of them.

"Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood just sited distracted driving as a factor in at least one out of 10 crashed in the U.S. Today, and when you text you are four times more likely to crash," Maguire said.

UMass Memorial's Mariann Manno says inexperienced drivers are the most vulnerable when it comes to distracted driving.

She says one out of three teens die in a car crash.

"Split second decisions made by really a inexperienced driver changes their lives and their families forever," Manno said.

UMass Memorial's Teen Drive program aims to reduce teens' distraction behind the wheel. Driving simulators demonstrate challenging driving conditions, such as driving under the influence and texting behind the wheel.

"Kids get an opportunity through both simulations and depending on what happens, the consequences and risks are shown to them," Prevention Educator Francisca Turkson said.

Teen D.R.I.V.E. rotates among Worcester public high schools. It gives a large number of students a first-hand look at the medical and legal consequences of unsafe driving decisions.

"When the kids first start driving, they think this is all fun, they are excited to start, until they crash and they start to see the consequences and risks, then they are taken back," Turkson said.

Meanwhile, Maguire says distracted driving does not just affect inexperienced drivers. She says, when all drivers sit behind the wheel, 100-percent of their focus needs to be on driving.

"At AAA we call texting the triple threat, it takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and most importantly it takes your mind and brain off your driving where it belongs," Maguire said.

Tags: Worcester, texting, driving, texting while driving, YMCA, teens, Kristen Doucet, Teen DRIVE, texting behind the wheel, YMCA Worcester, young drivers
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