Here's a pop quiz: What is the number one threat to teenagers?
Hint: It's not drugs or crime.
The answer is traffic crashes.
Another fact: Teens who text while driving increase their risk of crashing by more than 20 times.
An event in Alexandria will take place Monday, May 21 to underscore the dangers of distracted driving.
Douglas County Safe Communities Coalition, in partnership with Casey's Amusement Park and Partington, Zimny Insurance is inviting teens ages 14 to 17, accompanied by at least one parent or guardian, to experience the dangers associated with distracted driving - but under safe, controlled conditions.
Teens will have the opportunity to take a spin in a go-cart while sending and receiving text messages with their parents.
"Our goal of the event is to increase the number of safe drivers on the road and for event participants to see first-hand that distracted driving is dangerous and can have serious - even fatal - consequences," said Crystal Hoepner, coalition coordinator.
Along with the on-track driving experience, teens and parents will attend three additional stations. Professionals in the community including law enforcement, emergency medical services, public health and insurance will talk to teens and parents about the responsibilities of driving, teen driving laws, driving risks, and the impact one car crash could have on a teen's life forever.
"We want teens to leave knowing how one meaningless, senseless, text message could impact their life," said Hoepner. "One text or call while driving could wreck it all for them financially, socially, physically and legally, and ultimately leave their family and community to grieve for their life lost in a crash that more than likely could have been prevented."
Pre-registration for the event is required by calling Douglas County Public Health at (320) 762-3054 or registering online at dcsafecommunities.com.
It will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., beginning with a welcome and pizza for the teens and parents attending.
A video, Forever Young, created by the Minnesota State Patrol will also be shown. It aims to communicate the seriousness of the life-and-death decisions teens make while driving. Note: the video is graphic, portraying a very real depiction of what could happen to a teenage driver.
The distracted driving event is a component of the coalition's comprehensive safe roads efforts and is linked to the state's core traffic safety initiative, Towards Zero Deaths (TZD). A primary vision of the TZD program is to sculpt a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior.