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Phoenix-area teens get crash course in distracted, drunk driving prevention

LISTEN: Teens beer goggles

PHOENIX — Banner Health has launched a program that aims to teach Phoenix-area high schoolers about the dangers of distracted and drunk driving.

However, the program does not involve getting behind the wheel of a car, but rather strapping on a pair of goggles that simulate the experience instead.

A group of North High School students participated in the program on Thursday. Chris, a senior who declined to give his last name, told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the experience was like no other.

“It’s crazy,” he said, after removing the goggles — and almost walking into a wall.

“How you walk — it’s so different. It’s deceiving!”

Banner Health said with so many fatal accidents in recent years,  many of which are linked to impaired, wrong-way drivers, they felt it was important to start the education before prom.

Registered nurse Tracey Fejt gave the talk in front of a classroom full of teens.

“Crashes have been on the rise, and so have deaths,” she told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “It’s always been important that we educate them on what they can do differently.

“If we can change even one behavior – and save a life – we made a difference.”

Chris said the goggles are a sober reminder of what intoxication does to people — and they have made him even more determined not to drink and drive.

“I learned that from my dad,” Chris said. “He used to drink a lot, and he went to prison for it. … I’m 18. When I turn 21, I’m not going to.”

Fejt and several Banner student nurses taught the kids about the major risks of driving while distracted, or while under the influence of mind-altering substances. They also learned about the importance of wearing seat belts.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 2,333 teens in the U.S. were killed in 2015.

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