Michigan State Police and Verizon warn teens about the dangers of distracted driving

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Steve Van Dinter
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Local area event urges high school teens to drive distraction-free

HOLT, MI – Verizon and the Michigan State Police today are teaming up to encourage high school students to put their phones down while on the road. Following last week’s observance of National Teen Driver Safety Week, the program was held at Holt High School as part of a joint campaign to educate students on the dangers of distracted driving. Captain Chris Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for the Michigan State Police, and Verizon Vice President of Communications, Jeffrey Nelson, kicked off the campaign with the support of Dr. David G. Hornak, Superintendent of Schools, Holt School District.

As part of the program, approximately 1,700 Holt High School students signed a pledge to reduce distracted driving in their daily lives. During the event, students learned firsthand about the dangers of distracted driving through various speaker presentations and received an awareness-raising cellphone wallet with the message “One Text or Call Could Wreck It All,” courtesy of Verizon.

(Pictured left to right) Dr. David G. Hornak, Superintendent of Schools, Holt School District; Jeffrey Nelson, Vice President of Communications, Verizon; Alaina McFarland, senior, Holt High School and Captain Chris Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Michigan State Police, gather at Holt High School in Holt, Michigan for the Michigan State Police and Verizon campaign to warn teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving.

"We’re proud to support Michigan State Police efforts to educate new drivers about mobile devices and distracted driving,” said Nelson. “Mobile phones save lives every day, but texting or talking when you’re driving can be lethal. When you’re behind the wheel, put your phone down and keep it out of reach.”

High school students are one of the most highly susceptible groups to distracted driving, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. According to a 2016 study, distractions played a role in 58.5 percent of 2,200 car crashes involving teen drivers, with 20.4 percent of those distractions involving cellphone usage.

”Distracted driving is prevalent among teens primarily because of their inexperience as drivers,” said Captain Kelenske. “We are thankful for Verizon’s support in helping us raise awareness about this dangerous epidemic that has impacted the lives of so many students and their families.”

The Michigan State Police dedicates 34 community service troopers (CSTs) across the state to provide public education on prevention and awareness issues, including distracted driving.

”We commend the Michigan State Police and Verizon for educating our students on the dangers of distracted driving,” said Hornak. “Our district is always exploring ways to improve the safety of our students and it is our hope that because of programming like this, they will think twice before taking their phones out while driving.”