Program warns teens against distracted driving

By From page A3 | February 06, 2014

distracted driving 2_5_14

Armijo High students listen to a presentation by California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Parker, in the foreground, on the dangers of distracted driving, Wednesday at Armijo. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD — When Armijo High School students were asked Wednesday what could be lethal, two of the answers were lip gloss and a cup of coffee.

California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Parker agreed that a teen driver would be distracted from his or her driving while either applying that lip gloss or taking a drink of coffee while driving.

The students were fairly jolly about the answers until a video started that showed interviews with the teens who were in the car with Fresno-area teen Donovan Tessmer when he was killed in a car crash on July 8, 2007. The driver of the car was distracted by the others in the vehicle. The fact that Donovan Tessmer was not wearing a seatbelt was a contributing factor in his death.

“He went to a movie with friends and he never came home,” said Donovan’s mother, Martha Tessmer, to a now-quiet audience of students after the video wrapped up.

The subdued reaction was one that is not new to Tessmer, who has been involved with Impact Teen Drivers since 2009.

“Once they realize who I am, it goes silent,” said Tessmer, carrying her son’s letterman jacket and football. “It makes them realize that it can happen to them.”

Parker and Tessmer were part of the CHP- and California Teachers Association-supported Impact Teen Drivers program, which aims at educating teens about the very real dangers of reckless and distracted driving.

Armijo High School was the third high school the program has come to after it was introduced in Solano County in 2011.

Parker said that while speeding is still the No. 1 cause of accidents in this state, “accidents caused by distracted driving is rapidly taking over”

Tessmer spoke of her son’s hopes and dreams of playing college football, which were on the verge of coming true when he was killed. She stressed that the students should not cut their own hopes and dreams short by allowing such habits as reading, texting, eating or drinking while driving to get them distracted while driving.

Parker described the teens’ reactions to the program as very positive, as shown by the large number of students who come up to talk to Tessmer about her son after the presentation.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.

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  • CD BrooksFebruary 06, 2014 - 7:09 am

    This is an excellent program and necessary. It is necessary because the kids "parents" have been teaching them everything BUT proper driving skills through their own actions since the kids were infants. I watched a lady approaching the stop sign on Fieldcrest at Moss Valley Dr. right in front of RHE yesterday texting away. C'mon people!

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