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Fairfax Co. Teens Learn Lesson On Distracted Driving

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Battlefield High School freshman Mitchell Gillen (with his mother, Pamela) got to experience how delayed reaction time due to texting-while-driving can be the difference between safely braking or colliding with an obstacle.
Jonathan Wilson
Battlefield High School freshman Mitchell Gillen (with his mother, Pamela) got to experience how delayed reaction time due to texting-while-driving can be the difference between safely braking or colliding with an obstacle.

Fairfax County police officer Joe Moore is in the passenger seat of a car, calmly giving orders to the driver: high school freshman Mitchell Gillen.

"This time, what I'm going to do is artificially introduce three seconds into your reaction time, so just keep driving a straight line, and when I say stop, stop," Moore says.

Moore is trying to show young drivers how just three seconds spent texting instead of looking at the road can be the difference between life and death -- even at just 25 miles an hour.

"Stop!" Moore shouts.

Gillen slams on the brakes, and then into the empty stroller and mannequin set up on the course.

The 15-year-old is about to get his own car from mom and dad, and he says his generation is starting to get the message when it comes to distracted driving.

"We've had a lot of class periods dedicated to -- 'when you're driving, you're driving. Not texting or calling someone.' So I think we're on our ways there," he says.

Fairfax police say over the past nine months there's been a 48 percent increase in the number of citations issued for distracted driving violations compared with the same period the previous years.

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