On April 20, a Kiwanis distracted driving presentation took aim at one of the most car accident-prone groups in America: teenagers.

The Shawnee High School freshman class attended the two-hour presentation, which included several firsthand accounts of accidents caused by texting and other distractions-some from drivers, and some from victims.

Texting is one of the more prevalent forms of distraction among teenagers, and is a common cause of Oklahoma auto accidents. Other distractions include fatigue, eating and drinking, paying attention to the radio, and other passengers.

Johnny Fredman of the Shawnee Kiwanis Club reminded the class that, “distracted driving isn’t just about texting – it is anything that takes someone’s hands, eyes or mind away from driving.”

Kiwanian Rachael Monroe said the intent of the presentation was to inform, not preach. The program, which is in its fifth year, stresses that texting is not inherently bad, but any distractions behind the wheel are potentially fatal.

Distractions are a problem among new drivers because they are not familiar with emergency road situations firsthand. Many of Shawnee’s freshmen would only be starting driver’s education classes in the next year. To recreate an accident scene, Shawnee firefighters attended the presentation with recorded sights and sounds of a crash, including the Jaws of Life that open the steel frame of a car to rescue someone trapped inside.

Students were given an opportunity to sign a personal pledge not to text and drive after the program. A majority of students took the pledge, and received pink and blue “texting kills” thumb bands to wear while driving as a reminder of their promise.