In an effort to underscore the risks for new drivers and to "drive home" good habits, students from six Michigan high schools will get behind the wheel to experience the dangers of distracted and impaired driving on Oct. 20.
The latest reports on traffic safety make clear the growing danger of distracted driving. In an effort to underscore the risks for new drivers and to "drive home" good habits, students from six Michigan high schools will get behind the wheel to experience the dangers of distracted and impaired driving on Oct. 20.
The young drivers are taking part in "Get SHARP," an experiential program that makes plain the dangers of Oper ating While Impaired, Intoxicated or Distracted.Get SHARP will be held on Thursday, Oct. 20 at Kart 2 Kart Indoor Karting and Conference Center in Sterling Heights. Under the supervision of driving safety professionals, the teen-age drivers get behind the wheel of Kart 2 Kart racing ka rts and experience, firsthand the dangers of driving while distracted.
Drivers will attempt to text or use a cell phone as they navigate on an indoor road racing course. The young drivers also will use goggles that limit vision while driving specially modified go karts to recreate the experience of driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.
Produced by Kart 2 Kart and the Sterling Heights Rotary, Get SHARP is presented in cooperation with the Sterling Heights Police Department Traffic Safety Bureau, the Sterling Heights Fire Department, and the Michigan 41A District Court. The acronym SHARP in the program's name stands for: "Sterling Heights Alcohol Reduction Program."
Get SHARP takes place from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20 at Kart 2 Kart Indoor Karting and Conference Center, located at 42705 Van Dyke Avenue in Sterling Heights. While the event is not open to the general public, students are expected to share their experiences with their peers through their student newspapers and social media networks.
Participating in Get SHARP are approximately 40 students from Adlai E. Stevenson High School (Sterling Heights), Eisenhower High School of Shelby Township, Henry Ford II High School (Sterling Heights, Utica Schools), Shrine Catholic High School of Royal Oak, Sterling Heights High School, and Utica High School.
Also planning to attend Get SHARP are Chief John Berg of the Sterling Heights Police Department and Chief Robert Shelide of the Shelby Township Police Department. Invited guests include Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.
For the first half of 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports traffic deaths are up 10.4-percent in the United States. Texting while driving, the data indicate, isa growing factor in traffic fatalities. The percentage of drivers who text increased from 0.9-percent in 2010 to 2.2- percent in 2014. The percentage of drivers ages 16-24 who text while driving is estimated to be 4.8- percent, with female drivers texting more than males.
The NHTSA report from 2014 indicated distracted driving was reported in crashes that killed 3,179 people, about 10-percent of all driving fatalities that year. Alcohol-impaired driving was associated with 9,967 fatalities, about 31-percent of driving related fatalities, in 2014, the latest year for which there are complete records.
"Young drivers hear the message: 'distracted and impaired driving is dangerous,' but unfortunately for too many, they don't really know until it's too late," Lieutenant Aaron Burgess of the Sterling Heights Traffic Safety Bureau, said. "Get SHARP helps new drivers get a lasting impression without danger to themselves or the community. What's more, it helps them develop good habits early that will help them over the years, from keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel to staying sober and clear headed when behind the wheel of an automobile."
The Get SHARP program follows other teen driver awareness programs Kart 2 Kart has presented with the Sterling Heights Police Department over the last decade with additional instruction on the dangers of distracted driving- particularly texting and using cell phones. Best Buy of Utica is sponsoring the "texting & driving" go kart experience that will demonstrate the dangers and consequences of texting and driving.
"Driving is tough enough without distractions or the influence of alcohol and drugs," Tony Eckrich, Kart 2 Kart Managing Member, said. "Even on an empty stretch of highway, there are a thousand things a driver has to watch over and be ready for. Things happen quickly, especially at highway speeds. If a driver's attention is on answering a phone or setting a GPS coordinate, he or she may not notice traffic stopped ahead. Get SHARP gives young people a chance to feel for thE;?mselves what too many drivers discover too late- before they make a mistake on the road in real life."
Kart 2 Kart is among the first facility of its kind presenting teen driver awareness programs in the nation. Since the inception nearly 14 years ago, 780 teens have gone through its safe driving programs. Participating students are asked to share the lessons and experiences learned in the program with their fellow students, friends and family, encouraging them not to drink and drive or text and drive.
A unique educational tool with this program is the use of "Fatal Vision," or "Drunk Goggles," worn while driving the go-carts and when conducting Field Sobriety Tests. A new "Texting and Karting" exercise in which students drive the karts on an obstacle course while texting and communicating on their smart phones, was added in 2012, in partnership with Best Buy in Utica and the Best Buy Geek Squad.
Get SHARP is sponsored by Kart 2 Kart Indoor Karting and Conference Center; the Sterling Heights Rotary; Best Buy in Utica; Up Clasen Personal Photography; and the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan.
About Kart 2 Kart Indoor Karting & Conference Center:Kart 2 Kart offers the latest in indoor racing technology in a safe, clean and authentic racing atmosphere. The track is operated using the most current professional motor sports safety systems, including warning lights, soft barrier systems, enforced driving standards, and an automatic computerized lap timing system. Drivers are fully briefed on the equipment they use and track safety and the entire circuit is overseen by the trained Kart 2 Kart staff.
Kart 2 Kart's 35 mph karts require drivers to be 16 years of age and licensed. They also offer junior karting for young drivers who are 54 inches tall.
Kart 2 Kart hours are Monday-Thursday 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12 noon to midnight and Sunday noon to 8 p.m. and special hours by request. Kart 2 kart is located at 42705 Van Dyke, Sterling Heights, Ml, 48314 (586) 997-8800 and online at www.kart2kart.com.
For more information, contact Lt. Aaron Burgess at 586-446-2892 or Melissa Bunker at 313-886-9074.