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Campus Crime Stoppers hosted Teens in the Driver Seat events at Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy, Harlingen High School, and Harlingen High School South this week to teach students about traffic safety.

The event brought awareness to the most common causes of teen driving crashes such as the dangers of speeding, street racing, driving under the influence, driving while distracted as well as the importance of wearing a seatbelt.

Students had the chance to stop by four different stations that simulated different scenarios with the use of Fatal Vision Impairment Goggles or as they were distracted by their cell phones.

“Teens in the Driver Seat brought the DWI simulator for the students,” said School Resource Officer Robert Curry. “We also set up a pedal kart obstacle course, [basketball] free throw, and a ‘walk the line’ scenario, so the kids can experience doing everyday things while feeling the intoxication effects simulated by the goggles.”

“It was hard to focus. I think it’s a great learning experience because it shows us the dangers of what could happen under those circumstances,” said Natalie Perez, a ninth grade student at Cano Academy.

Teens in the Driver Seat is a peer-to-peer safe driving program that is available to schools throughout the state of Texas.

“Instead of the kids always hearing from a teacher or an adult about being a safe passenger or safe driver, the students are the ones on the campus assisting and really helping drive the message. The program is donated to schools across the state of Texas thanks to funding from Texas Department of Transportation,” said Shannon Barkwell, Research Associate at Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “I’m really thankful for the district allowing us to come out and really promote the traffic safety message.”

Started in 2002, Teens in the Driver Seat program brings together young drivers, parents, and school administrators for the purpose of reducing teen driving fatalities.

Teens help shape the program, help implement it, and educate their peers and parents; Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) provides the science, guidance, and project resources.

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