Teens Drive Distracted in Closed Course

By Julie Tam
|  Saturday, Mar 26, 2011  |  Updated 7:01 PM CDT
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Teens and their parents learned firsthand the dangers of distracted driving.

Julie Tam, NBCDFW

Teens and their parents learned firsthand the dangers of distracted driving.

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North Texas teenagers and their parents got to experience firsthand Saturday how dangerous it is to drive while distracted. Teens had to drive a closed course outside Bass Pro Shops in Grapevine with distractions, like texting, turning up the radio, and opening a water bottle.

If it wasn't a closed course, the teen drivers could be crashing into trees or other cars, instead of cones around the track. Fresh out of driving school and eager to get on the road, teens learned from a professional driver what to do and what not to do.

"I was kind of stressed out and put to the test and put pressure on you. But I thought I remained calm," said Nathan Gulyas, 16.

"I've never had to slam on the brakes at 30 miles an hour," said Codeigh Medrano, 16. "It was hard. There were signs there that I didn't see at all."

Car wrecks are the number-one killer of teenagers in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Texas, 500 teens a year are killed in traffic accidents, according to the Texas Transportation Institute.

I got behind the wheel and found it was hard to maintain the speed limit and avoid the cones with a bunch of distractions.

"We want to get a little panic going because it's not until you're in that reactive state that you really know what your body's going to do," said Chris Greer, a Toyota Driving Expectations driving instructor.

It's the unexpected that parents worry their teens will run into. But many parents are just as guilty of driving distracted.

"That is going to be my new thing and my husband's -- no more phone calls or texting while we are driving," said Mystic Doty, Medrano's mother. "It's nerve wracking. It'll make a parent go crazy real quick."

Parents and teens learned lessons and made promises to each other to be safer drivers.

Toyota is holding more driving courses Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Click here to sign up.

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