By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Police, students and community leaders gathered to encourage distracted-free driving throughout the summer months.
The mission of the Safe, Mature And Responsible Teen Summer Driving Campaign is to remind drivers about the consequences of distracted driving.
Included in the distracted driving category is the use of cell phones, texting while driving, applying makeup while behind the wheel and eating while driving.
To serve as a reminder to drivers, a vehicle involved in a distracted driving crash is put on display outside the Dearborn Police Station, 16099 Michigan Ave.
“This annual reminder helps keep all drivers safe and addresses the growing concern of distracted driving,” Police Chief Ronald Haddad said during the May 12 press conference. “The damaged vehicle is placed outside to hopefully impact drivers and inspire safe driving.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American teenagers each year, killing between 5,000 to 6,000 children and young adults. Drivers and passengers under 21 years of age represent 23 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities each year.
“Cellphone incidents along with passenger distractions are the top reasons for vehicle incidents,” AAA of Michigan Strive 4 A Safer Drive Program Manager Gary Bubar said. “Parents are just as important as drivers because they are the role models and teach their children how to drive.”
Dearborn Public Schools Supt. Glenn Maleyko praised student leadership throughout the district for spreading awareness of distracted driving.
“We can change behavior through education and talk to students,” Maleyko said. “AAA comes out to the schools and holds simulations for the students.”
The Edsel Ford High School junior and Link Crew member Jeremy Attar, 16, said the school held video, T-shirt and poster contests to educate other students.
“We wanted to show people how distracted driving affects everyone,” Attar said. “No matter how much experience someone has, they can be involved in an accident.”
The Link Crew serves as a program within schools to promote safety, help new students, solve problems and set life goals to achieve.
EFHS Link Crew members also invited a group to parent-teacher conferences for a distracted-driving simulation. They also had teachers, parents and students sign a pledge to drive responsibility.
Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Abed Hammoud gave a parent’s perspective on the issue.
“Parents play a big role in how their children drive,” Hammoud said. “If they get a ticket or into an accident there should be punishment or accountability for their actions.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org