West Scranton Students Experience Dangers of Distracted Driving

SCRANTON, Pa. -- A few soon-to-be drivers got to take a test drive of sorts at West Scranton High School without actually leaving a parking space.

These students make up the next generation of drivers. On Thursday, they got their first taste of life in the fast lane but with a few added distractions.

"He told me to take my phone out and take a selfie and I just went in the other lane and there was a car coming and then I had Kenna in the back and that was also distracting," student Dominic Spathelf said.

"It was kind of difficult, trying to understand what he was saying and driving at the same time," Elijah Wade said.

This was the first time Dominic Spathelf and Elijah Wade had been behind the wheel of a car. But as passengers, they've seen plenty of drivers on the roads with their heads buried in their phones.

"I see that all the time, like driving past us or anything. Yeah, I see them texting and driving," said Spathelf.

"Always. Always see it. People always get told about this stuff, and still never pay attention like, they just don't care," Wade added.

That's why West Scranton High School brought in the Peers Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing distracted driving. Using a reality simulator, the group showed students the dangers of driving with distractions.

The simulator introduces three types of distractions: cognitive, visual, and manual. Using your phone is one of the only things that checks off all three. You're looking down at your phone, you're thinking about what you're seeing, and you're using your hands to control it.

According to the Peers Foundation, distracted driving is the number one cause of death in ages 16 to 29.

"You think, just like with anything, it's never going to happen to me. It's never going to happen to my family, and I think we're all guilty of it," said Shane Beach, Peers Foundation.

After experiencing a crash, even if it was only a simulation, both Elijah and Dominic pledge to never use their phones while driving and even wait to have friends in the car until they feel comfortable.

"If we can help save one family, one person, then we're helping," Beach added.

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