Teens reminded of distracted driving dangers

Teens reminded of distracted driving dangers (Image 1)

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week and state safety officials are working hard to remind teens about the dangers of using cell phones behind the wheel.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt has started the Be in the Zone program to help combat teen distracted driving.

Tuesday, teens involved in the program heard the story of one local family whose son was killed by a distracted driver in 2009.

Doug and Pat Ralls lost their son Brian after a car being driven by someone who was texting hit him, killing him instantly.   He was just 23 years old.

“We had to tell her that her big brother was dead, a totally preventable death, totally preventable. If you don't think this can happen to you, you're wrong,” said Doug Ralls recalling the moment he had to tell his daughter Brian, her brother, had died.

State officials are encouraging teens to commit to driving phone-free and going as far as turning cell phones off when the ignition is on to prevent the temptation.

The Ralls showed four pictures to the teens, hoping to convince them.

The first picture is of Brian with his little sister Emily as young children.  The second is of Brian in high school.  He played football at Brentwood Academy.  The third picture is of the horrible crash site and the last picture is his tombstone.

Siegel High School student Amberly Leininger attended Tuesday's event. She told News 2 texting while driving is a big deal to her friends. She says her school is also being proactive.
“We're going to have a lock-in, where people will sign over their phone for 12 hours, and it'll prove to them that if they can not text for 12 hours then they can sit in the car for two minutes or 12 minutes and not text,” she said.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says it's dedicated to informing teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

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