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Michigan Teens Urged to Avoid Distraction and "Drive Smart"

Navigation systems, cell phones, music and passengers can be driving distractions. (Pixabay)
Navigation systems, cell phones, music and passengers can be driving distractions. (Pixabay)
June 7, 2016

LANSING, Mich. - The carefree days of summer are here, which means more teenager drivers will be on Michigan's roads.

And experts say avoiding distractions is key to staying safe while behind the wheel.

Pediatric Trauma Program Manager Amy Randall with C.S. Mott Children's Hospital says traffic accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for teens, and a common culprit is distracted driving.

But she notes texting or talking on a cell phone are not the only no-nos.

"There's actually a lot of things that can cause distractions really when anyone is driving," says Randall. "So it can be the cell phone, the navigation, music, but for teen drivers the number-one distraction is actually other passengers."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seven of the top 10 deadliest driving days of the year are between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

To help prevent the dangers of distracted driving, Mott and Kohl's Department Stores launched the Drive Smart campaign which provides online toolkits to prepare young drivers for the road.

Randall says the website, kohlsdrivesmart.org, offers tips to help parents start a conversation with their teens about the importance of reducing distractions.

She explains parents play major roles in preventing teens from forming bad habits while driving.

"Drivers' training really starts the moment you turn the car seat around. So kids are watching their parents and they're watching how they behave while they're driving," says Randall. "So that's a really important thing that parents aren't only telling their teens not to drive distracted but they're not driving distracted themselves."

On Saturday, the Drive Smart campaign will host a virtual-reality driving simulator at the Jackson Road Cruise in Ann Arbor that will give drivers a first-hand look at the risks of distracted driving.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI