Young drivers learn dangers of texting

By Alicia Booth - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic crashes in the U.S., and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says cellphones are the No. 1 driver distraction.

On Monday some young drivers at Atlantic Coast High School learned some of the ways to keep themselves out of danger.

Young people are well-known for being much better multitaskers than their elders. But when it comes to driving, attorney Wayne Hogan says multitasking is a myth once someone picks up a phone.

"At that point, your brain has left the job of driving the vehicle and you've turned it over to luck," Hogan said.

Hogan gives talks like that regularly to young drivers, with examples of how it is impossible to text and drive safely.

Although the driver's education class at Atlantic Coast High may get the message, Hogan said parents may be the ones who need to hear it the most.

"We're hoping that this kind of education that we're doing with students will cause them to say, 'Mom, dad, you told me not to do that, but we've learned a lot more; you shouldn't do it,'" Hogan said.

"I've seen many many parents text and drive, and myself, I've been in the car with parents who have texted and drive also," said sophomore Chance Clemons.

Clemons said he has had a friend seriously hurt while texting and driving.

In Florida, texting and driving fines can range from $99 to $160 as a secondary violation.

Hogan believes the law should be stronger, but it's a start.

"These days at least a parent is able to say to a budding driver, a teenager, it's illegal to do it," he said. "Previously they weren't able to say that it's illegal to do it, and that matters."

Senior Shelly Cornish has been a passenger in a car hit by a texting driver and is concerned the decision to put down the phone won't get through until it's too late.

"I think it goes in one ear and out the other, and like I said, nobody understands until something happens to them, which is really bad," Cornish said.

For more about End Distracted Driving, the foundation that makes the distracted driving education possible, go to The foundation was set up in memory of a journalism student who was killed by a distracted driver.

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