Preventing Driving Distractions

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Knoxville (WVLT) - When you were learning how to drive, it was tough enough just keeping your eyes on the road.

Today's teens have cell phones, text messaging, and other new technologies to distract them.

Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt shows you how one local high school is using real-life stories to make teens safer in the driver's seat.

"Every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle you take on the responsibility of not only yourself, but everyone else around," says Legacy Co-Chair Susan Ford.

It's hard enough for teens to learn the rules of the road without distractions like cell phones and the radio.

Which is why every year thousands are in accidents across the country.

"We understand you like your music, your cell phone, those issues, but you have to put safety first and foremost," says Ford.

That's why teens at Clinton High School got a lesson in safe driving and it's one they won't soon forget.

On May 19th 2004, Melanie Bittle's 3-year-old son was killed in a car accident.

Her life changed forever, and she wants teens to know what goes on behind the statistics.

"I wasn't able to hold him anymore, the last time I saw him was in the car before the crash," says Bittle.

A few students shed tears as Bitlle tells her story and shows pictures of her son.

Hopefully, a valuable lesson about responsibility.

"By one choice that they make they can effect somebody for the rest of their lives," says Bittle.

Ford says you can make a difference by getting in the car as much as possible with your teens, teaching hands-on lessons they can't learn from a book. "The more time that you can give them, while they're permitted the better off you'll be."

Here's some sobering stats: in 2005, 701 car accidents here in Knoxville involved a 15, 16 or 17 year old.

Seventeen-year-old drivers were at fault 65% of the time.

Sixteen-year-olds, 71 percent of the time.

And in 26 percent of all crashes involving a 17-year-old, the result was injury or death.