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ADA: Driving Under the Influence Like ‘Vehicular Roulette’

An attendee tries out a distracted driving simulator at a teen driver safety summit in New York.

When Martin Heidgen of Valley Stream, N.Y., drove drunk on July 2, 2005, he crashed his Chevrolet pickup into a limousine at highway speeds, killing 59-year-old Stan Rabinowitz and 7-year-old Katie Flynn.

“When you drive under the influence, you are playing vehicular roulette,” said Maureen McCormick, chief of vehicular crimes at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.

McCormick, who prosecuted the case against Heidgen, was the first of many speakers at the AAA to Generation Z teen driver safety summit on Long Island. With more than 140 students from nine local schools in attendance, McCormick and others shared stories of how a split second of drunk, drugged, drowsy or distracted driving can change lives forever.

Other speakers included Karen Torres, whose father was killed by a distracted driver behind the wheel of a cement truck on Long Island’s Sunrise Highway in 2006. Attendees also heard from a Long Island resident who spent two months in jail after she ran a red light and caused a crash that severely injured a Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office investigator.

“Every time I blow into that Breathalyzer (in my car), it’s a reminder of that bad decision I made,” the 22-year-old said.

AAA Northeast held similar events earlier in 2017 in Dedham and Seekonk, Mass., and in Meriden, Conn. Speakers at those sessions included Colleen Sheehey-Church, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Rick Birt, acting COO of Students Against Destructive Decisions, along with doctors, police officers and traffic safety advocates.

For more information on helping young drivers stay safe, click here

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