Professional race car drivers will get behind the wheel this weekend to teach metro teens the dangers of distracted driving.
A seven-time Indy 500 driver started the teen driving clinics to prevent all-too-common and often deadly crashes. With scary statistics such as motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all 15-to-20-year-olds, the clinic aims to convince teens to put down the cell phone and pay attention to the road.
Many parents worry about the moment their child gets behind the wheel for the first time.
"I have a 15-year-old daughter and I know how distracted she can become while driving," said Rob Smith, the general manager of Baron BMW-Mini.
Smith said he decided it was time to bring Miles Ahead teen distracted driving clinic to the Kansas City area.
"If we can save just one life, it was very worthwhile," he said.
International Indy car drivers Stephan Gregoire, Dillon Battistini and Stephen Simpson will show teens just how difficult it can be to maneuver vehicles in poor weather conditions.
"We have a special device on the rear of the car that breaks the rear end loose. So rather than wetting down the asphalt with water, we have a special device that creates that slippery condition," said Ted Woerner with Miles Ahead.
Students will also maneuver a driving course while wearing simulator goggles to create a sense of impairment.
"It simulates impaired driving, whether it be narcotics or alcohol," Smith said.
Distracted driving will be the main focus of the clinic and the numbers show just how dangerous it can be. According to the National Safety Council, everyday texting while driving kills 11 teenagers and texting while behind the wheel makes drivers 23 times more likely to crash.
"We have them reading road signs and trying to interpret those signs while doing something very challenging in the car. For example counting backwards from 100, which simulates the cognitive effort that is required to have a cell phone conversation," Woerner said.
Instructors will transform the parking lot at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS, into a driving course. The life-saving lessons will be offered for free this weekend for anyone who has a learner's permit or driver's license.
"We certainly think young drivers are the most impressionable because they haven't created a lot of bad habits yet. Hopefully we can train them to start down the path of correct habits," Smith said.
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