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A teenagers struggle with distracted driving

Katie Hill has a lot on her plate. She plays varsity softball, engages in community service with Key Club, manages the football team and is a member of student
council, which means she is involved in a majority of school activities. Katie also just turned 16. She has a new driver’s license, a new car and a new activity to juggle.

Katie is a lot like other teenagers. School, family and friends keep her life busy and offer a lot of reasons to be preoccupied.

ThinkFirst traveled to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park, Kansas, where Katie attends school, to talk with sophomores about these distractions and why they matter when you are behind the wheel. Medical professionals and victims of car crashes shared their experiences with first-hand accounts of
how seat belts, cell phones and other disruptions have significantly altered lives.

The ThinkFirst presentation made an impression on Katie. Her family has gone through several wrecks, so she is a cautious driver.

“I’m a new driver, so I’m careful. I follow the speed limit and always wear my seat belt when I’m driving or in the passenger’s seat.”

But not even a responsible, cautious teen like Katie is immune to the dangers of distracted driving. She admits to occasional interruptions while she is on the road.

“I’m guilty of distraction, especially when I’m listening to music or adjusting the radio and I have a bad habit of not wearing my seat belt in the back seat of a car.”

Like even wearing your seatbelt in the back seat, ThinkFirst assemblies are designed to help youth identify ways to become safer drivers and passengers. Distracted driving is emphasized with force and frequency during the presentation. However, Katie understands the importance of avoiding distraction on the road despite hearing the warning regularly.

“As teenagers, we hear about texting and drinking while driving a lot, but that repetition is important. Listening to different
stories of victims helps me understand the consequences.”

For Katie, distracted driving is an act of selfishness.

“This assembly taught me that texting, drinking or any form of distracted driving can hurt others, not just myself.”

To learn more about the ThinkFirst program, call 816-266-4955.