Driving home road safety

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Don’t text and drive.

That was the message delivered to Fowlerville High School students Saturday at a local automotive test track in the hopes that it might save their lives.

For the first time, cell phone use was incorporated into the annual specialized training day for teen drivers at Aisin Seiki Co.’s FT Techno of America Fowlerville Proving Ground near Layton and Smith roads in Handy Township.

“We want (teens) to see the difference between that one extra second or two seconds it takes that you look down, and see how much distance (the vehicle) has traveled,” said Mike Benjamin, operations manager. “Texting’s very innocent, but when you see the real difference it makes in a situation, we think that will send a message home.”

About 20 high school juniors and seniors took their brief classroom training to the test track with a professional driver, learning skid control in their own vehicles on the proving ground’s ceramic tile tracks simulating ice and snow.

The students executed breaking exercises and quick lane-change maneuvers, among other safety procedures.

Vice President Terry Takano said the driver’s training course is an extension of the company’s philosophy of promoting safety and giving back.

“It’s also important to encourage the future of the automotive industry,” he said. “The kids get to see what we do on a daily basis on an automotive testing pad, which makes them more excited in physics.”

The free training has been hosted for four consecutive years at the proving ground in partnership with Tire Rack Street Survival School, a national initiative that teaches teens how to drive better, safer and smarter.

“Students at this age are often unprepared for dangerous driving conditions, and this program allows them to learn how to handle the conditions in a controlled atmosphere with excellent instructors,” said Brad Lusk, Fowlerville High School principal.

“The staff of the program is second to none,” he added.

Contact Daily Press Argus reporter Amanda Whitesell at (517) 552-2847 or at awhitesell@gannett.com. Follow her @MandyWhitesell on Twitter.

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