Texting While Driving: Can Teens Be Scared Straight?

Photo by Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Photo by Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
PALM HARBOR (2011-10-31) -

Is there anything scarier than being behind the wheel and realizing the driver next to you is texting? The biggest offenders are teenagers. But this Halloween, a group of Pinellas County firefighters hope to scare them straight.

East Lake Fire Rescue has designed a haunted fire house sprinkled with safe-driving messages. In addition to the usual zombies and skeletons, there's Dexter the Texter -- a mannequin who lies in a casket clutching his cell phone. And in the parking lot, a wrecked car.

District Chief Bill Edling said the display has left teens shaken up.

"They're pretty shocked when they come see our display here, this car," said Edling, who dreamt up the haunted house. "I do see a lot of them looking around and asking if this is a real car, if this was a real accident. And it's both."

Amy Heinzen specializes in pediatric injury prevention at All Children's Hospital. She sayid there's no way to measure the number of accidents the haunted house prevents, but it's still a good way to get through to teens.

"I think this project with the haunted house is very timely, and it fits perfectly into the yearround programming that I would hope to see taking place," Heinzen said.

Edling said if the haunted house saves even one life, it's worth it.

To watch a video of the haunted fire house, click here.

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