Northwood teens driven to distraction

Published 10:19 am Friday, May 14, 2010

Teens were tested Wednesday afternoon on their ability to drive safely while facing myriad distractions.

“We want to show how easily you can be distracted,” ninth-grader Breanne Lombard said.

Some of the distractions included answering a phone call, responding to a text message, changing a CD, picking up passengers who were encouraged to be loud and more all while trying to drive safely through a course set up in the parking lot of the Northwood-Kensett Junior and Senior High School.

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“It’s something that serves as a problem for any teen,” senior Megan Thofson said.

Thofson is the president of the Family Career and Community Leaders of America club at the school. She heard of other schools making teens drive while distracted to show them how dangerous it could be.

There was a freewill donation for drivers who wanted to participate in the course. The FCCLA will match any donations and then donate that money to Relay for Life.

The FCCLA is a student organization that raises awareness for many causes and focus on bettering the community.

“We’ve donated to Relay in the past,” Thofson said.

Kelsey Tenold, 17, was brave enough to try the course. She had to slow down to respond to the text message but made it through the course safely.

“I thought it’d be something fun to try,” Tenold said.

She said she realized that distractions can make for worse driving, especially when having passengers in the car. Deb Dakken is the faculty adviser for the FCCLA. She thought it would be a fun activity that could also help the kids learn about safe driving.

“It’s to bring awareness to distracted driving month,” Dakken said.

The first 20 students who could successfully get through the course won a t-shirt. The kids in the FCCLA had a list they found of the 10 most distracting things to do while driving and wanted kids to experience them.

“They’re going to try to get all of them,” Dakken said.

The whole point of the activity was to get kids to see that distractions can make for unsafe driving.

“We want to make sure the student knows how to be safe,” Thofson said.