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StreetSafe Driving program puts young drivers in real life situations

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Texting while driving has surpassed drinking while driving as the leading cause of teen deaths.

That's one reason Brunswick County is taking a different approach to drivers ed.

Every 6 weeks around 50 young drivers take part in the StreetSafe driving program.

The course gives young drivers the opportunity to experience how easy it is to lose control of a car, teach them a realistic stopping distance and make them aware of the hazards of distractions.

Assistant district attorney Quintin McGee said, "I like to call it drivers ed on steroids."

Since it seems the attention span of a young person these days is limited to about 140 characters, Mcgee believes keeping them interested with an engaging program is key.

He says, "This certainly does that while allowing them to learn at the same time."

Student Shanice Harrison didn't know what to expect when she arrived at the Brunswick County government complex around 9am.

She said she was surprised she actually had fun and still learned something, "You actually get to do that and you actually get to feel what would happen if you do that in real life."

The four hour program supplements a classroom lesson with a driving course.

Wilmington police officers work with the students using a lot of the same exercises taught in the police academy.

"Why not? These aren't secrets. We're not trying to hide these from anybody." said Sargent David Register.

Register suggests we use this opportunity to "teach these young drivers defensive maneuvers and evasive maneuvers to keep them and other people safe on our highways."

After more than 20 years with the Wilmington Police Department, Register says, "I've unfortunately seen a lot of tragedy and this is one of those things we can fix."

Majority of the students were referred to the program through traffic court, but it's open to the general public as well for around $30.

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