Teenagers are a driving group we at DRIVE SMART Virginia worry about a lot. They have little experience driving (day or night). Teens also like technology: from the latest music and Ipod, GPS and cell phone. All those things are distractions when you’re driving and they increase your chances for a crash. That leads to a few questions. But do teens know that traffic safety advocates worry about them? Do teens know their parents worry? Are teens aware, really aware of the dangers of driving distracted? I think the answer is “yes.” WAVY-TV invited 14 juniors and seniors from First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach to discuss distracted driving. They also invited Janet Brooking, Executive Director of DRIVE SMART Virginia to participate as an expert in the discussion. Host Kerri Furey was well prepared and the teens were honest with her. Most (13 out of 14) admitted to texting and driving at some point in their short career. They agreed that their messages weren’t that important and should have waited. One teen told Kerri “when I see my phone light up, I have to see who it is.” These students, arguably a microcosm of their peers, know what they’re doing is dangerous, but admit to being willing to push the envelope. The reason seems to be that the text or email only took a few seconds. Kerri asked the teens, “do any of you ever close your eyes for 3 seconds when you’re driving ?” They all laughed, then realized that’s what they’re doing when they text. Their eyes are off the road for at least 3 seconds. An average text can take longer, maybe 4-5 seconds. That’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed, at 60 miles an hour. Janet Brooking advised the teens not to text and drive. She also offered some tips: prepare for the trip, no matter how long. Buckle up. Set your GPS. Know your route. Don’t be in a hurry. Janet also told the teens to set an example for their friends. The students admitted that’s hard. One said, “it’s tough to confront your friends.” The students from First Colonial are now MORE aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Let’s all hope they pass along that message to their friends.