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Sterling Heights

October 2, 2013

Teens get safety instruction a la kart

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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Sterling Heights High School freshman Ava Livernois drives a go-kart while doing a texting-and-driving exercise at the Kart 2 Kart Indoor Karting and Conference Center Sept. 26.
 

A fall program that teaches teens about driving safety recently crossed the finish line in Sterling Heights.

Kart 2 Kart Indoor Karting and Conference Center hosted the Get SHARP event Sept. 26 at its Sterling Heights go-karting facility. SHARP is an acronym for the Sterling Heights Alcohol Reduction Program.

Sterling Heights Sgt. Aaron Burgess, who helped found the program around 11 years ago, said it focuses on stopping dangerous teenage habits behind the wheel. For instance, he said, texting while driving offenses are not uncommon.

“We stop at least one or two a day,” Burgess said. “Usually, people are so busy texting, they don’t notice the officer driving right next to them.”

Burgess said Get SHARP uses simulations to safely encourage Macomb County high school students to drive soberly, without intoxicants or distractions like texting. Driving experts oversaw the activities for safety purposes.

According to organizers, the event invited an estimated 40 teens from high schools in the Utica Community Schools and Warren Consolidated Schools districts. During the event, the teens drove special go-karts while wearing “Fatal Vision” goggles that mimic impairment.

According to Burgess, the goggles came from the Sterling Heights Rotary Club and were either donated to the group or bought through grants.

“Obviously, the students’ brains aren’t impaired by alcohol, but having the blurred vision disorients the students enough to simulate being intoxicated when doing field sobriety tests or driving,” he said.

Tony Eckrich, Kart 2 Kart managing member, said in a statement that Get SHARP makes students aware that dangerous driving habits put others at risk.

“Though it’s only a few hours of their time, we hope it’s a time and lessons they remember and share with their friends and families,” he said.

Besides the go-karting facility, local groups behind the Get SHARP effort include the city, its Fire Department, its police traffic safety bureau, the 41-A District Court and the Sterling Heights Rotary Club. Local businesses and the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan also helped put the event together.

Burgess said the kart exercises and the informational handouts encourage the students to be role models for others back in their home schools. He added that the exercises seem to change student attitudes and behaviors, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The only negative comment I’ve ever received is that the kids didn’t get to ride the karts longer,” he said.

Kart 2 Kart Indoor Karting and Conference Center is located at 42705 Van Dyke Ave. in Sterling Heights. Learn more at www.kart2kart.com or by calling (586) 997-8800.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.