Teens gather in SoCal for event aimed at preventing distracted driving

Teens from around Southern California gathered in Orange County to learn safe driving habits during an event aimed at preventing distracted driving.

The Mercury Insurance Drive Safe Challenge, a driving school immersion course designed to help young drivers avoid dangerous situations, was held Saturday at the Honda Center. The program includes hands-on driving skills training and an interactive classroom session.

The Anaheim Ducks, California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Mercury Insurance also took part in the one-day event.

Nearly six teen drivers died in a car crash each day in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It was the leading cause of death for 15- to 19-year olds nationwide.

Among the causes of teenage driving fatalities are speeding, not wearing a seat belt, driving under the influence, distracted driving and engaging in risky behavior with other teens in the car, the NHTSA said.

CHP officer Paul Fox cited inexperience as a major reason why teens are involved in more collisions.

"Getting a driver's license is a major milestone for young drivers, but it is also a big responsibility, which is why we encourage parents to set a good example for their children by displaying safe driving behavior behind the wheel," Fox said. "After all, safe driving is about more than just knowing the mechanics of operating a vehicle."

Parents who attended the program were also tested. Wearing goggles designed to simulate impaired vision, parents drove through a course accompanied by a CHP officer.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, an effort to recognize the dangers of and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving. At least nine Americans die and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes each day, according to the National Safety Council.

Editors Note: Video provided by Mercury Insurance.