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Simulator at Southview demonstrates dangers of distracted driving

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Southview student Taishawn Redmond tries to navigate the road on a driving simulator that uses a variety of distractions to test the driver's ability to stay focused.

The Blade/Natalie Trusso Cafarello
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Many Southview High School students were pulled over by police between Monday and Tuesday. But parents can breathe a sigh of relief, because the pullover was in a virtual setting and part of a lesson teaching teenagers that driving while under the influence of distraction is a big no-no.

On Tuesday, students gathered around Southview freshman Taishawn Redmond, 14, with his hand on the wheel of the distracted driving simulator as he tried to navigate the road while paying attention to a passenger driver.

Set up in the school’s common area, you could hear the passenger ask him, “Can you call my sister?”

Despite avoiding cell phone use, in the end the young Redmond crashed while turning into the highway.

“I thought it was realistic. It had more scenarios than I would have imagined on the road,” he said.

Even Principal David McMurray could not pass the test, and “I haven’t had a ticket in years,” he quipped.

The simulator created different scenarios, having a deer crossing the road, people crossing the road, and a challenge of calling or texting someone, per the request of the passenger.

“Half the kids got distracted and most often the result is they get pulled over by the police,” Mr. McMurray said.

The simulator and other educational tools about distracted driving were brought to Southview by the Sylvania Community Action Team (SCAT), ProMedica, and Lucas County Traffic Safety Program. It travels to Northview High School today and Thursday.

“This is another piece of the positive choice,” said SCAT executive director Deb Chany, referring to its promotion of healthy life choices.

From applying makeup, eating food, and even switching the radio, all of the actions could distract the driver and put them at risk.

Terry Kirkham, manager of pediatric trauma at Toledo Children’s Hospital, displayed another computer generated program that predicts the crash probability.

“This assesses the risk of crash based on how many passengers in the car, if it’s day or night, and interior distractions,” she said.

One of the greater interior distractions was texting, talking, and reading a GPS.

And although young Redmond has a couple of years until he is eligible for a driving license, he said, he would avoid texting while driving, as he would be responsible for himself and the safety of another person.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.

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