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Proctor Students Fight Distracted Driving

Posted at: 04/18/2013 5:46 PM
Updated at: 04/18/2013 6:22 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Proctor High School students learned how it feels to drive distracted and the deadly consequences that can result from it.

Boring assemblies and poster boards aren't enough to reach teenagers, so the SMART group at Proctor High School used interactive tools to fight distracted and drunk driving on Thursday.

The group's name stands for Safety Means Always Responsible Thinking. They said having students run through an obstacle course wearing drunk goggles makes a real impact.

“We wanted it to be interactive so that kids can really get a feel for what it's like to be drunk, and why they don't want to do it because it slows them down,” Megan Stemper said.

Studies show texting while driving can slow reactions just as much as drunk driving. Pedaling and texting around a tricycle course showed that to Keenan McGovern.

“It's not very safe. It's hard to say on the line and it's just not a good idea to text and drive,” McGovern said.

Students said reaching for the phone is automatic for them.

“A lot of people, they don't really think about it. They'll just pick up their phone and glance down,” Stemper said.

But that can have deadly consequences. A fatal car wreck from last year was on display outside the school on Thursday. Police said 16-year-old Haylie Samuelson had been texting before she died in the rollover accident near Hinckley.

The SMART group hoped the tragic example would also help students make good choices before they hit the road.

“I just want them to think about this and say, 'You know, maybe I don't need to be texting when I'm driving, I don't need to go out and drink, I should be wearing my seatbelt,'” Stemper said.

Many Proctor students signed a pledge to fight distracted driving, but the SMART group will not stop there. The group will take their interactive tools to other Duluth-area school next week.