Eagle River Youth Coalition hosts next Safe Driving Fair for teens at Battle Mountain High, May 10 | VailDaily.com

Eagle River Youth Coalition hosts next Safe Driving Fair for teens at Battle Mountain High, May 10

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Safe Driving Fair activities include driving simulators, marijuana- and alcohol-impairment goggles, distracted-driving prevention, designated texter pledges, crashed-car and speed-distance understanding and extrication equipment demonstration.

EDWARDS — Every spring, the Eagle River Youth Coalition teams with partners to host Safe Driving Fairs to remind youth to be safe behind the wheel: no texting while driving, drinking and driving, impaired driving — really, being alert and aware while cruising around town.

"The fairs occur during prom season to remind youth of the dangers of driving unsafely and to encourage making safe choices during times of celebrations," said Mikayla Curtis, manager of strategic impact at the Eagle River Youth Coalition.

Activities include driving simulators, marijuana- and alcohol-impairment goggles, distracted-driving prevention, designated texter pledges, crashed-car and speed-distance understanding and extrication equipment demonstration.

Three seconds is all it takes

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, more than 37,000 people die in car crashes every year; nearly 8,000 people are killed in crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 20.

"Every year, ERYC partners up with Eagle Valley High School's Devils Against Destructive Decisions for safe driving week," ERYC intern Kaitlyn Cooper said. "Even just promoting the idea of safe driving is beneficial. You have to get the idea into people's head before things start to change."

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Texting and driving is one of the most common causes of crashes for both adult and teen drivers. Just three seconds looking at a phone can change a driver's life — or the lives of passengers.

"The goal is to remind youth that driving is a serious activity that requires full mental capacity to be able to respond to whatever may occur on the road," Curtis said. "Stay sober, drive distraction free and arrive safely are key messages to remember anytime you get behind the wheel."

Ron Beard, owner of Alpine Driving School, suggests that instead of texting your child when he or she is on the way home, set up communication expectations to text when you're leaving somewhere and text when you arrive. This way, family members don't distract the driver and don't worry.

The safe driving fairs at local high schools are a project of the Eagle County Prevention Committee, with partners from Eagle County Sheriff's Office, Devils Against Destructive Decisions, Think First — Vail Health, Eagle County Paramedic Services, Gypsum, Eagle River and Greater Eagle fire departments, Eagle County Paramedic Services and Colorado State Patrol.

More than 400 students participated in the event at Eagle Valley High School on Thursday, April 12. The next safe driving fair will take place at Battle Mountain High School on Thursday, May 10.