“Save A Life Tour” gives Meriden students hands-on lessons about distracted driving

MERIDEN - In an effort to combat distracted driving, the Connecticut Department of Transportation of teamed up with Matrix Entertainment, a company that travels the country teaching children about the dangers of distracted driving.

The "Save A Life Tour," is expected to travel to 80 schools across Connecticut. For the seventh year in a row it returned to Maloney High School in Meriden, where teachers say students have been very receptive to the presentation.

The presentation is a combination of speakers, videos, and the test driving simulator, which mimics what it would be like to text and drive.

The tour came to Meriden on Friday, targeting juniors in high school, the age group that is either just starting to drive, or will be very soon.

"I’m supposed to be going for my permit soon," said Breana Montero, a junior who test drove the simulator on Friday. "I couldn’t get the steering wheel to go straight, and it was frustrating, at any moment I could’ve hit a car because I was on my phone."

Teacher Cari McKee said she sees a difference in the students after experiencing the program.

"Once they really understand the dangers of it, it really puts it in perspective," said McKee.

"It’s upsetting because there are so many teens that are getting their license, and they think it’s OK because they’re like, 'I can multitask,' but you can’t," said Montero. "You’re paying attention to a phone and you can’t really see the road."

According to the "Save A Life Tour" statistics, an average a text message takes about five seconds to respond to, and if you are driving at about 55 miles per hour during that time period, you would have traveled the length of a football field, all the while not looking at the road.

"Our message is just to spread awareness to everybody so once you see it in your school is very important that you spread it to your brothers, your sisters, your parents, especially since they may not of had this opportunity to see what goes on when you are texting and driving," said Keian Hagstrom, Save A Life Tour Manager.