MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With proms and graduation approaching, more teenagers are on the road and so are their phones, which is what worries parents.

Distracted driving was blamed for 440,000 accidents in 2009, and 5,474 deaths, but if those numbers don’t drive home the danger, a ride in a distracted-driving simulator will.

That’s what Grace Wooldridge and her friends Catherine and Marlee did at the AAA Minnesota/Iowa headquarters in Burnsville. They are products of the cell phone generation — teens who text all day and have to consciously avoid their phones when they drive.

When Wooldridge tried the simulator, she was surprised by the results.

“I was speeding more,” she said. “When I was looking at my phone, I wasn’t really paying attention to the other cars. I almost hit a train because it came quick and I was looking away.”

Catherine struggled even more. Trying to text on her touch screen, she kept crashing.

“It was harder than I expected,” she said.

And although Marlee can text without looking, her driving was still filled with swerving and speeding.

“Even if you’re not looking away,” said Lee Glamm of AAA Minnesota/Iowa, “your brain is still being used more for that text and less for driving.”

It’s a message that’s heard by every kid in the country. Still, parents worry.

“I pray that she doesn’t do any of that,” said Grace’s father, Scott. “I see cars swerve and I pull up next to them and somebody is looking down.”

And that’s why this simulator can be so helpful. A hands-on experience, convincing teens to keep their hands off the phone.

“Keep the phone in the glove compartment,” said Grace, “away from me, probably on silent so I’m not even listening for the buzz or anything.”

Studies show you’re 23 percent more likely to crash if you’re texting. AAA Minnesota/Iowa takes that simulator to schools, and it’s also reaching out to teens by challenging them to produce distracted driving PSAs.

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Comments (4)
  1. fkafka says:

    They think they can text safely at a stop light. They text through the red. They text through the green and when they realize it’s red again, after motorists awaken them, they race through, thinking a burst of speed will compensate for their lapse. I’d rather have Alzheimer drivers on the road.

  2. Human Bean says:

    scariest thing I ever did see was a trucker texting on hwy 35!!!

  3. JamieinMN says:

    Let’s PLEASE remember that adults are just as guilty of this! We have to remember that not only teens, but adults are also behind the wheels texting and driving.

  4. Cygel White says:

    DriveReply™ for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android was designed to combat cell phone usage behind the wheel. It features customizable auto-replies and utilizes GPS technology to detect when your vehicle is in motion. It is feature rich and easy to use. Some of the features include personalization, customization of replies, cyber bullying protection with a no-reply list, and enhanced convenience and security with a unique My Drive 5 — ringing a unique tone, if any of your significant persons try to reach you at a time when you should be focused on the road. Learn more at the website (www.drivereply.com).
    Tips for curbing or better yet, eliminating, TWD —
    Try storing your phone in the glove department and keep it on silent mode or simply turn it off while you are driving.
    If you must check your phone, first pull over to the side of the road and stop your car.
    If you know a friend is driving, try to help them out by resisting the urge to text or call them.

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