Great Hang Up: Teens take driving challenge

10:25 AM, Dec 19, 2010   |    comments
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  • Gibsonton, Florida -- For the past few months, the 10 News Great Hang Up campaign has tried to convince drivers to put down their cell phones when they're behind the wheel.

    If any one group needs to learn that lesson, it's younger drivers. They've grown up with phones in their hands.

    10 News recently went to East Bay High School in Gibsonton and set up a test on the schools driving range.  Some of the students were experienced drivers. Some were still in Mike Shirley's Drivers Ed class.  All of them had trouble.

    The students were put behind the wheel with distractions coming from many different directions.  Teens were in the car talking to them.  Others were calling or texting while the drivers tried to navigate the road test.

    16-year-old Tianna Lee Edwards had trouble from the start.  She was one of the most novice drivers in our group--and clearly nervous. 

    "Oh my God. This is ridiculous," she said as she tried to make a turn, talk on the phone and deal with a rowdy Pedro Molina sitting next to her.

    Even the more experienced drivers, who had their licenses for a couple of years, had difficulty dealing with the distractions.  One 18-year-old even knocked down a cone.

    Bruce Murakami, founder of Safe Teen Driver, helped us put together the driving challenge.  He knows the risks first hand.  In 1998, Murakami's wife Cindy and daughter Chelsea were killed by a 19-year-old street racer.  Teaching kids about road awareness has been his passion ever since.

    "First off, they're just starting to drive," said Murakami.  "That's distracting enough. Then you add the element of putting a cell phone in their hands, that's...a recipe for disaster."

    The Morning Show anchor Ginger Gadsden also tried her hand at the distracted driving course.  You'll see how poorly she did as part of the Great Hang Up special Saturday, Dec. 18th at 8:00pm.

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