Martin students learn the dangers of distracted driving

“Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel.”

It’s a simple message that was learned Monday by students in ninth through 12th grades at Martin High School.

Students spent a portion of their day in small groups discussing what impaired driving is and the importance of safety behind the wheel. Then, students were able to take the wheel in a driving simulation that showed them the dangers of drunken driving and driving while texting.

The nationally recognized program informs, educates, and demonstrates the potentially deadly consequences of poor choices and decisions made by the operator of a motor vehicle. Distracted driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is “anything that takes your attention away from driving.” Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a GPS, and eating while driving are just a few examples of distractions.

The event has several ways to drive their message home, including a video presentation, speeches, interactive simulators, surveys, pledges and wristbands. Students also learned that 10 people are killed every day in a distracted driving accident and 1.6 million accidents occur every year because of distracted driving.

Kiaya Warner, a sophomore at Martin, got her driver’s license just five months ago. She volunteered first to get behind the wheel of the Chevy Sonic that was outfitted with sensors and VR technology. “Today was a real eye-opener, “she said, “and it makes me not want to text and drive.”

The program is put on by the Kiefer Foundation and the Peers Foundation, they go to high schools, military bases and other venues to spread the message of safe driving. The event was part of a 50-stop tour across West Michigan, sponsored by General Motors.