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GCHS Students Experience Distracted Driving

"It was definitely an eye-opening experience," said junior Josie Taylor.

Josie Taylor experiences distracted driving on a driving simulator. Photo credit: Korrina Grom
Josie Taylor experiences distracted driving on a driving simulator. Photo credit: Korrina Grom
Josie Taylor got behind the wheel of the driving simulator in the Grayslake Central High School Field House and started off on a leisurely "drive."

Seconds later, after she'd accelerated to more than 40 miles per hour, Taylor received a text message on a phone attached to the simulator and had to take her eyes off the "road" to read and respond to the message. 

Taylor found herself veering out of her lane.

"It was really interesting," said Taylor, a junior. "It was definitely an eye-opening experience."

Taylor, who hasn't yet driven alone because she is still using a permit, said the experience taught her that it's really easy to get distracted and crash.

"I personally don't like looking down while I'm driving," said Taylor.

Taylor was one of many students who participated in the "Save a Life Tour" distracted driving event Wednesday at Grayslake Central. GCHS teamed up with Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital to bring the multimedia program to the school. 

Juniors and seniors saw a presentation Wednesday morning that addressed distracted driving and associated statistics. Then, throughout the day, students went to the Field House during physical education classes to experience distracted driving on two simulators. 

"A lot of these kids are really scared because they're new drivers," said Bethany Russ, driver's education coordinator at GCHS. "They can learn how unsafe it is to drive distracted."

One boy found himself driving 45 miles per hour in light snow. His classmates panicked when he came close to crashing into an oncoming vehicle while texting. 

One of the speakers at the event quickly noted that 20 percent of all accidents involving teens involve cell phone use. 

"In a split second, you're off the road," said Brigette Harrison, RN, who is the trauma coordinator at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. 

She sees victims at the hospital who have been involved in texting-while-driving accidents.

"Usually, there's significant injuries," said Harrison.

In such a technology-driven, multi-tasking society, events like Wednesday's driving simulation are important, she said.

"The younger generation is really attached (to technology).  They live by it," said Harrison, who hopes the students share what they've learned with their friends and family.

"The whole hands-on thing is important," added Heather Andrews, a Grayslake Police officer who is the resource officer at GCHS. "It helps them open their eyes."

The "Save a Life Tour" is expected to visit North Chicago, Lake Forest and Libertyville High Schools in coming months.

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