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If you go
What: McMillen Health Lecture Series: Distracted Driving
When: Thursday, registration begins at 5:30 p.m.
Where: McMillen Center, 600 Jim Kelley Blvd.
Cost: $5 for adults, free for students
Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Wayne New Tech freshman Mackenzie Riley hands out “Don’t Text and Drive” cards to promote Thursday’s forum.

Forum steers focus to distraction-free driving

The average teenager sends about 3,000 text messages a month, and representatives from the McMillen Center for Health Education and Parkview Trauma Center want to make sure those messages aren’t being sent from behind the wheel.

On Thursday, the McMillen Center, Sprint and Parkview’s “Don’t Text and Drive” program will team up to sponsor the McMillen Health Lecture Series on Distracted Driving.

Thursday’s event will begin with registration at 5:30 p.m. at the McMillen Center, 600 Jim Kelley Blvd.

The cost to attend is $5 for adults. There is no charge for students.

The keynote speaker, Miles Nitz, a TEDx speaker and therapist, will begin at 6:15 p.m.

Nitz will discuss how the brain works and will offer tips and strategies about why it is so difficult for teens to put their phone down, said Frances Brooks, director of operations and marketing for the McMillen Center.

“Indiana continues to be among the top (in terms of the) numbers of teen deaths from distracted driving,” Brooks said. “Forty-three percent of teen drivers use their phone while they are driving, up from just two years ago.”

Brooks said adult drivers can be even worse, as more than 60 percent of drivers reported they use their phone to talk or text while driving.

Thursday’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion beginning at 7:15 p.m. with Sgt. Ron Galaviz of the Indiana State Police, Kevin Gleason of Sprint, Linda Hathaway of the McMillen Center, Jerri Lerch of the Drug and Alcohol Consortium of Allen County, Nitz and Jennifer Freedman Smith of the Distraction Advocate Network.

Breakout sessions will follow from 7:50 to 8:30 p.m. Attendees can opt to attend one of four presentations: “My Mother was Killed by a Distracted Driver,” “How I am Fighting Back” with Jennifer Freedman Smith from Parkview Trauma Center; “Mobile Device Safety” presented by Sprint; “Are You Smarter Than the Average 10th Grader?” presented by No Alcohol No Drugs; and “Distracted Driving” presented by the McMillen Center.

On Tuesday, representatives from the McMillen Center, Parkview and Sprint visited students at New Tech Academy to hand out cards about the event.

jcrothers@jg.net

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