Programs teach teen drivers to keep their eyes off their phones, and on the road

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CHICAGO — They're relatively new drivers, yet the incidents of distracted driving many teenagers have seen or been around are countless.

That's why the Circuit Court of Cook County joined the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM) to create a CRASH course that lays out exactly what can happen when drivers are not safe behind the wheel. The Courts Response to Alcohol and Safety in High Schools (CRASH) program is a very real look into the cost of distracted driving and driving under the influence.

Those consequences are very real, as 150 seniors from St. Rita’s High School on Chicago’s South Side learned during the course recently. It can end up in jail, or in ending a life.

Rita Kreslin lost her 19-year-old son John in a drunk driving crash in 2002, but she hopes his life and his death will prevent others from making bad decisions at such a "vulnerable" age.

"Getting ready to leave for college or whatever adventure is going to take them in their career... it's so important that they think that bad things do happen to good people," Kreslin said.

The dangers of DUI and distracted driving go hand in hand. Kreslin says a Utah University study found a person distracted by an electronic device while driving is equivalent to driving with a BAC of .08 or higher. According to AAA, six-out-of-10 teen crashes involve driver distraction.

Some places like schools in NW suburban Elgin and area hospitals are asking people to sign pledges committing to drive safe and free of distractions, doing their part to keep the roads safe for everyone.

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