'Drive N Live' event meant to discourage distracted driving - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

'Drive N Live' event meant to discourage distracted driving

Saturday morning seven local police agencies united to put on the second annual Drive N Live Teen Safe Driving Program. (Source: Mary Gagliardi) Saturday morning seven local police agencies united to put on the second annual Drive N Live Teen Safe Driving Program. (Source: Mary Gagliardi)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Texting and driving threatens the lives of everyone on the road.  It's estimated that those who text behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to crash. Horry County officials are going to extensive measures to stop teenagers from distracted and impaired driving.

Saturday morning seven local police agencies united to put on the second annual Drive N Live Teen Safe Driving Program. The event invites anyone 14 years of age and older to learn about the dangers of texting while driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol.This program is aimed at children below the legal driving age to make a lasting impression while they're young.

“We start the age at fourteen, before they start driving. Why? Because we want them to understand the dangers of texting and driving, and what it can do to you or to someone else, and that's the whole thing. That's why we start this program a little earlier for the teenagers that are fourteen years old,” explained event founder Lance Corporal Felix Cruz, with the Horry County Police Department.

The kids drove multiple courses in go karts wearing ‘drunk goggles' to simulate the blurred vision felt after a night of drinking. This proved difficult. “It was really hard. If you tried to look at one cone you'd see five cones and wouldn't know where to go. You could really hurt people,” said 14-year-old, Katie Smith.

“I thought when you were drunk you were just goofy and don't pay attention to the road, but really it messes your vision up – it impairs it. You see five different things when you should only see one,” added 14-year-old, Brooke Reagan.

The texting and driving course also provided a few eye-opening challenges. “It was difficult. I can say that. It's hard to look at the screen and drive at the same time. It was hard,” said 14-year-old, Thomas Hodson.

While many of these kids are not behind the wheel yet, distracted and impaired driving can affect anyone – no matter if you are the driver or passenger in a vehicle. They believe the Drive N Live event brings much-needed light to these issues.

“If people do this more often and bring awareness to their experience, then they'll understand how much of an impact there can be," Reagan said.

“My sister drives and I don't want anything to happen to her. I don't want to do anything to somebody else or have something happen to me. So, I wanted to come out here to see what could actually happen,” Smith explained. 

“I mean, I see other people doing it when I'm driving in the car with my mom, and I just want to say, don't do that, you need to stop it, or someone is going to get hurt,” Hodson added, 

Nationwide, 11 teens die daily from texting and driving, and distracted driving injures over 330,000 people a year.

Lance Corporal Cruz explained as long as this program reaches at least one driver and reminds them to keep their full attention on the road, he'd consider it a success.

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