Local family raising awareness about distracted driving dangers, new report shows on rise among teens

By: CBS 21 Web Staff

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A recent AAA report on crash data shows distractions are playing a more significant role in crashes involving teenager drivers than first thought.

That's up from the original findings of just 14 percent of crashes involving teenagers involved distractions.

The report showed the most common form of distraction for drivers was interacting with passengers, followed by cell phone use and listening to music.

No one knows more about the devastating consequences than Karen Brezitski, a Dauphin County mother who lost her son when a teenager driver, who was distracted by music, hit and killed her son in 2011.

The then-17-year-old driver was changing the music in her car when she hit Karen's son, Owen, while leaving a concert at the former Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg.

Since the accident, the Owen Foundation has been started, working to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, particularly among young people.

"We talk about the consequences of her because really when I'm speaking to those young crowds, a lot of them are just getting their permit, or they're just learning how to drive. It's important for them to realize that there could be consequences, lasting consequences by making bad choices, a bad decision behind the wheel," Karen said.

The foundation remembers Owen through the Orange 4 Owen campaign. Orange was Owen's favorite color.

CBS 21 partnered with the foundation on April 9 to help raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and also feature the launch of the station's new initiative, Drive Safe Central PA, which provider drivers an opportunity to pledge to avoid distractions while driving.

CBS 21 staffers and community partners wore orange as part of the day, as did many viewers. Please take a look at the CBS 21 Orange Out photo gallery to see images from the day's events.