Course demonstrates dangers of texting while driving

University Hospital takes campaign to Johnson High School


SAN ANTONIO – Johnson High School senior Amanda Leihsing climbed in behind the wheel to do something she shouldn't: texting while driving.
Amanda slowly navigated the driving course dotted with bright orange cones. As she began to type her text, one cone was down, and then another. Before she was done, she had bumped or knocked over five cones.
"I thought it would be a little easier," she said. "It's distracting."
The controlled driving course was set up on campus Friday by University Hospital's Level I Trauma Center staff as they launched their community-wide Drive Now Text L8R campaign. With the number of texting-related crashes, injuries and fatalities on the rise, the sponsors wanted to drive home a point.
"Our point is, texting can wait," said Tracy Cotner-Pouncy of University Hospital. "When parents tell them, 'You really can't text and drive at the same time,' they don't believe it until they actually get to experience it."
Texting is routine for most teenagers, even while driving a car.
Senior Nick Dauphin admitted to the occasional text.
"Yeah, every once in a while, like most people," Nick said.
As Nick drove the course, with an instructor operating a passenger-side brake, he found the twists and turns of the course tricky to handle while typing his text.
"There were points where I wasn't looking at the road for a couple seconds at a time, which is pretty dangerous," he said.
The average length of time a person takes his eyes off the road to read or send a text is 4.6 seconds. If that person is driving 55 mph, he would drive the length of a football field without looking at the road.
Many of the students signed pledges promising not to text and drive.
As for Nick, after driving the course he said he will "probably not" text and drive in the future.
"After hitting one, two, three cones, it's a pretty bad idea," he said.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.

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