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Crash teaches the dangers of texting behind the wheel

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Fatal traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in Lee County.

Law officers and emergency responders are working to change that, though. Friday, they showed students what happens when they don't pay attention behind the wheel. Lee County's 1,300 students watched as friends were involved in a mock crash and saw the consequences of distracted driving.

Behind the wheel it only takes, taking your eyes off the road for a second to type for your car to travel 95 feet with no guidance and the consequences can be severe.

It's a powerful image, two Lee County students injured in a crash caused by texting and driving.

"Kids don't realize today how serious it is driving and texting, or anything they're doing in the car that's taking their mind off of driving so our goal is if we can get just one peron's attention," said Bobby Watkins, Lee County EMS Director.

Students were paying atperson's as it was announced 16 year old Celine didn't survive being thrown through the windshield. Her mother sobbed as the coroner's staff put her into a body bag and removed her from the crash site. Students say it's a tough reality check.

"It made me think twice definitely about texting and driving and calling anyone while I'm driving definitely with friends in the car I probably won't ever do that again," said Janelle Zingaro, a Lee County High School Student.

It's a image law enforcement and EMS hopes sticks in students minds.

"Texting is just as bad if not worse than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs," said Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals.

While Friday's crash was just a mock scenario the words of Michael Littleton are reality. He killed three people after driving drunk in June of 2006 and is now serving a 10 year prison sentence.

"There is not a lesser evil of drinking and driving or texting and driving I hope you all saw that hearse pulling out of here because that is reality, it is guys that is reality," said Michael Littleton, a Lee County inmate.

A reality each student could face if they don't put down their phones and concentrate when they're behind the wheel.

In a study done by AAA, they found the risk of a car crash increases by 50 percent for people who are texting and driving.  

In 2006 in Lee County, four young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 were killed in fatal crashes.


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