Distracted driving a hot topic in drivers ed class

8:55 PM, Jul 14, 2010   |    comments
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"I see it all the time. Not only kids [but] parents and older people anywhere; it doesn't matter if it's a freeway or residential area, everyone's on their phone," 15-year-old Masterdrive student Dayna Prast said.

When 9NEWS showed up to Masterdrive on July 14, we had no idea Masterdrive General Manager Mark Stolberg wanted to give us a personal lesson.

"Steady speed, about 15," Stolberg told 9NEWS Anchor/Reporter Eric Kahnert as he drove the course.

The challenge was to swerve into the only lane without a red light at the last minute.

Kahnert was asked to take a phone call and text behind the wheel.

His driving progressively got worse with each distraction.

"I lost track of where the lights were," Eric said.

"OK, when you're driving up the street, and the phone rings, what's to say that's not the moment that the soccer mom backs out in front of you or the drunk driver crosses the median?" Stolberg asked Eric.

"The problem is you're taking primary focus to the phone call, and primary focus needs to be on driving," Stolberg said.

Eric then did the texting test, and hit several more cones.

"It doesn't matter how good you are at texting, you're just as distracted?" Eric asked.

Stolberg replied, "It doesn't matter how proficient you are with your thumbs, it's the distraction of the brain."

"Take your phone when you're in the car and simply turn it off," Stolberg said as he shut down his cell phone.

That message has already started to sink in for his teenage students.

"Turn it off, and look at it afterwards, if it's an emergency pull over and look over it," fifteen-year-old Masterdrive student Cameron Akhavan said.

If you would like to take the 9NEWS Great Hang Up pledge to help stop distracted driving, click here to download the pledge form.

If you have a story about distracted driving you would like to share with us, or if your company or office has decided to sign the pledge as a team, e-mail Eric at eric.kahnert@9news.com.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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