Franklin students aim to fight teen driving deaths

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FRANKLIN, IND. — Indiana leads the country in teen traffic deaths during the first half of 2012, and now a group of Franklin students is trying to do something about it.

Students involved in the Business Professionals of America, decided to hold a special driving event on Wednesday to educate their peers on safe driving and saving lives on the road.

The Franklin Fire Department was among several groups at the event, using the Jaws of Life to dismantle cars.

For some students, the demonstration hit close to home following a traffic accident involving one of their peers earlier in the school year.

“Today was the first time I got a chance to see this car,” said Giana Damianos, who looked at the crumpled car that was driven by one of her female classmates.  “When I looked in there and I saw the driver’s seat, that’s what really got to me. I couldn’t believe someone sitting in that.”

Though the teenage driver escaped with minor injuries, a group of students vowed not to forget.

“It really hit us, we were like, ‘Wow, this is a real issue. It could happen to anyone,'” Damianos said.

That’s when the Business Professionals of America called in the driving professionals.

“We teach kids what to do in case this happens to them,” said Stephan Gregoire, a driving instructor with Miles Ahead teen driver training.

Gregoire a former Indy 500 driver, showed students how to keep a car on the road if they begin to spin out or lose control.

“So it’s really about three things: counter steering, pause, recovery and always look at where you want to go,” Gregoire said.

Students also got to get behind the wheel themselves. They tried to navigate a course while wearing goggles that simulated driving drunk.

“It’s making me feel a little dizzy and it looks like everything is being magnified,” said Dylan Carr, a Franklin senior.

After hitting several cones with the goggles, Dylan began simulating a distracted driver. He tried to navigate the course while counting back from 100. Once again, he hit several cones and also failed to follow the directions of a sign.

“It was just a simulation, but if that was in real life I could have probably killed myself and many others,” Carr said.

For the students who helped make it happen, they hope the lesson isn’t forgotten.

“It’s not just adults feeding you, ‘don’t text and drive’ like they always do,” Damianos said. “When we are reaching out, then maybe they might listen to us because we are their peers.”

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