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Go Cart Maneuvers Teach Risks of Drunk, Distracted Driving

BRANSON, Mo. -- Zipping around the track wearing goggles to simulate intoxicated driving sends a message about responsibility.
BRANSON, Mo. – Go carts zipped around a track on the Hwy. 76 strip, wobbling and fishtailing as drivers wearing thick, disorienting goggles struggled to accurately maneuver the course.

Celia Hall was one of them, participating in a local workshop called “Life on Track” for the second year in a row. Hall and more than 400 other high school students came to learn the dangers of distracted and intoxicated driving. The goggles simulated the blurred vision felt after a heavy night of drinking.

“You think you’re doing fine but then you hit a cone that you didn’t evn see,” Hall explained.

Another obstacle course let the students attempt to send a text message while driving the carts. Many hit the cones, or had to slow down in order to send the message. Afterward, police officers spoke to the children about the dangers of distracted driving.

The group screened videos espousing the risks involved. Many included personal testimonies from young adults who had either hurt someone while distracted or been the victim of a terrible crash.

“I think it really shows us how dangerous it is,” Hall said. “With the videos it shows that it actually does happen.”

Officer Darold Donathan, representing the Branson Police Dept., spoke to the kids, explaining that most text messages take a driver’s eyes off the road for more than three seconds.

“They get here and they have the fun, riding the go-carts, cheering each other on, seeing the activities here. Then afterwards we get into the more serious eye opener,” he explained, adding that the prevalence of text messaging among preteens often leads to a greater temptation to look at a phone while driving. “They're learning how to text and they're doing it every day. They're doing it all day long, possibly. And then they're getting their driver's license.”

Jim Brawner, a community health outreach specialist, said workshops like Life on Track promote preventative measures in addressing teen health issues.

“You don't ever think about the other person and it's all about ‘me, me, me’ and the more other-focused we get, the more hope we'll have.”

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