Shrine High School spreads awareness about distracted driving

By: Taylor Christensen | Royal Oak Review | Published April 27, 2024

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ROYAL OAK — Distracted driving can include taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, and taking your mind off driving.

According to, the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distracted driving kills 3,000 people every year.

Young adult and teen drivers ages 15-20 accounted for the majority of crashes involving distracted drivers in 2019, according to the CDC.

Shrine Catholic High School aims to spread awareness about this problem by hosting a “Distracted Driving Day” for Shrine sophomores and juniors April 24. The event will have different interactive stations dedicated to the dangers of distracted driving.

The stations will include golf cart driving with “fatal vision goggles,” field sobriety testing, a seat belt convincer, a firetruck and a demonstration of the Jaws of Life rescue equipment, and victim support dogs from the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Royal Oak Police Department will be leading the interactive activities.

The Berkley Public Safety Department, Oakland County and the Royal Oak Fire Department will also be attending to give presentations as well as help out with activities.

“Distracted driving is definitely a problem, not just with the younger ages, but all drivers,” Shrine Catholic High School Principal Sarah Cerone said. “Regardless of age, people are being distracted by their phones and other things.”

As the principal of the high school, Cerone is always trying to teach the students in interactive ways.

“One of the things we really believe in at Shrine is experiential learning; our students need to experience things and have hands-on experiences for these lessons to truly set in,” she said. “This is just another way that we try to bring those lessons that we’re teaching them into real life.”

Cerone said that this year is particularly special, as the school is having one of its own student’s parents speaking about a life-changing experience with distracted driving.

Tricia Imai was driving to her son’s baseball game in May of 2021 on Interstate 75 when the man in the car behind her was texting and not paying attention to traffic.

This man, texting and driving, ended up hitting Imai’s car from behind, causing her car to crash into the back of a semitruck.

“I was knocked unconscious,” she said in an email. “The truck driver, Jeff West, pulled over and got out of his truck to check on me. He found me passed out with my car on fire.”

Imai said that West’s quick reaction, and ability to cut her out of her locked seatbelt, saved her life. Police told her if she had stayed in the car any longer, she would have died in her car, which exploded into flames moments later.

“This experience has ultimately made me incredibly grateful for my life, I don’t take a single day for granted,” Imai said in an email response. “I am so grateful that Jeff West saved my life! I pray for him everyday and thank God he was there!”

Speaking at the Distracted Driving Day will be the first time Imai has spoken about her story in front of a crowd.

“I am a social worker, and my first social work professor told all of her students, ‘Everything you go through in life — use it to help others,’” she said. “I feel compelled to use my experience to help others understand the serious impact of their decisions.”

Imai said that distracted driving is preventable, and she hopes her story can help show others the importance of being focused while driving.

“Sharing my story with the younger generation is important to me because teenagers have their whole lives ahead of them,” she said. “I hope after hearing my story and seeing the pictures, the teenagers will make responsible choices when driving.”