|Updated: 9/17/2012 9:00 am
||Published: 9/15/2012 6:35 pm
The first year on the road for teens is the most dangerous.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports distracted driving is the number one cause of death among teens.
On Saturday, State Farm hosted "Tulsa Celebrate My Drive” to educate teens about the dangers of not focusing on the road. The insurance company hosted the event at hundreds of other locations across the nation.
The lessons impacted many of the teens at the event. Booker T. Washington High School Senior Lauren Leifeste has seen the effects of a distracted driver first hand.
"We actually just lost one of our friends at Booker T. the past year," Leifeste told FOX23.
She’s a member of Generation Txt, a youth run project to help new teen drivers and families practice safe driving. The senior told FOX23 the death of a classmate is a constant reminder to be safe on the road.
"It's a sad story," said Oklahoma County Deputy Jason Yingling.
He is the only designated law enforcement instructor traveling across Oklahoma putting teens in a driving simulator to allow them to see the effects of being distracted on the road.
The driving simulator, known as SIDNE: Simulated Impaired Driving Experience, is used with a pair of DUI goggles that have a blood alcohol level of a .08 (at that level a person will be arrested). The goggles allow the teens to see how difficult it is to drive under the influence.
Yingling also has the teens try to text and drive. It’s all done on a course that uses cones as people. Every time a teen hits a cone they can see how quickly a life can be taken.
"Do you think you would feel the way you feel if one of those cones was a kid on a tricycle on the street?" asked Yingling. He was talking to a group that ran over five cones trying to text.
"She got the text off but she killed everyone on the interstate in the process," he told the teen’s parents.
Clearly, sometimes it only takes a few seconds to take a life.
"They say the average text is about 4.6 to 5 seconds. At 55 miles per hour that's like driving the length of a football field blindfolded,” said the deputy.
In this case, these teens can press restart. Leifeste hopes her peers learn from it.
"Everything can wait when it comes to texting,” she said. “Nothing is so important that you can put your life in danger."
Studies show a driver texting is 23 times more likely to get into a crash. A first time DUI offender could be fined up to $15,000.