Six teens from Grant Park School spent a day at the tracks learning firsthand what it’s like to drive while impaired or distracted. Impaired driving is the number one cause of criminal deaths in Canada.

Project Shift brought teens to a go-kart track to experience the effects of dangerous driving in a controlled environment. First, they were given impaired-driving goggles and told to drive a go-kart around the track at least twice.

“It was disorienting. The lanes look a lot wider than I knew they were and the turns really jutted out. Usually you had to take them really wide,” says grade 11 student, James Lebar.

The teens’ second challenge was texting and driving. They had a send a perfectly spelled text while maneuvering the track. The teens said it was harder than driving with the goggles.

“You can’t go fast and text. Because when you’re looking down at your phone you can’t see where you’re going and there’s lots of turns going on here,” says Lebar.

Alenna Mark agrees that texting and driving was more difficult. The grade 11 student says she could relate to the texting challenge.

“I’m sixteen and I don’t drink, but I definitely have a cell phone. And when I drive it gets put in my purse and I turn it off and it gets put in the back. Because that temptation to text and drive, it’s pretty real.”

Michelle Golebiowski organized the event to give students a safe experience with unsafe driving. She hopes it will stop them from making risky choices in the future.

“This is something that I think would be a great opportunity for them to try and a positive spin on educating them on the dangers associated with distracted and impaired driving,” she says.

Golebiowski hopes to make this pilot project into a regular event.