“It’s not a good thing,” Michael said. “Think about how much power a teen has when we put them behind the wheel of a car.”
Michael, a member of the Carrollton DawnBreakers Rotary Club, is organizing an event for next Saturday that she hopes will be fun, but will also produce some lasting lessons.
The free event, running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Carrollton Junior High on Oct. 13, is sponsored and hosted by her DawnBreakers Club.
Events and activities include: a golf cart and cone course provided by Carrollton Police Department, with drivers donning beer goggles to simulate the effects of drunken driving; a rollover simulator provided by the University of Georgia that shows the effects of not wearing a seat belt; door prize drawings and a skid car to demonstrate over-correction.
Michael also said other companies and institutions, like West Georgia Technical College and State Farm, will be on site to provide information to attendees.
A pledge board will also be set up at the event, encouraging teens and parents to sign and pledge not to participate in distracted driving.
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger and bystander safety.
These types of distractions include texting, using a cell phone, eating, grooming, reading a map, using a navigation system or adjusting the radio.
In 2010, 3,092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, with an estimated 416,000 sustaining injuries from the activity.
Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure others.
Running simultaneously with the event on Saturday will be the Teen Vehicle Operations Course, a police training course for teen drivers.
The course usually costs $150, but thanks to a donation by the DawnBreakers Rotary Club, the price is cut in half to $75.
TVOC is an eight-hour, hands-on course for teens and their parents that has been designed by police officers and is taught by police academy instructors.
The course will actually begin Thursday night with a classroom portion from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Carrollton High School.
Then, on Saturday, the hands-on portion of the course will begin, with a morning session starting at 8 a.m. and an afternoon session at 1 p.m.
The hands-on course will also be held at Carrollton High. A parent or legal guardian is required to attend with all teens. Pre-registration is required at either www.tvoc.ws or call 770-823-7823. According to Michael, the course had 30 open spots originally, but only a few more remain open.
Michael said she thinks it’s important for parents of teens to come out and learn more about the growing problem of distracted driving.
“As someone said to me the other day, we make so much of an investment in athletics and other extracurriculars for our teenagers,” she said. “We also need to make an investment in their safety.”
As the mother of a teen who has been through the course, Michael said she knows how important being aware of the dangers can be.
“If we can save just one life, it will most definitely all be worth it,” she said.