Teen Racer Tells Peers: Don’t Text and Drive

February 7, 2012 Updated: February 7, 2012
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Sixteen-year-old Tristan Nunez has had his driver’s license for a few months; he has had his competition license for a few years. The Florida teen’s experience on the race track gives him a unique insight into the dangers of driving, and his age gives him a connection with other new drivers.

When he is not rocketing around a race track at 160 mph, the young racer is telling his fellow teens to avoid one of the most dangerous driving distractions—texting while driving.

Not content to just to drive high-tech racing cars at tracks around the nation, Tristan wanted to do something socially relevant. He and his mother Diana Nunez started looking for charities, causes, and campaigns, which might give the young racer a chance to help others.

“Tristan realizes how very fortunate he is to be able to pursue this career as a racing driver,” Nunez explained after spending a day watching her son testing at Sebring International Raceway. “He wanted to give something back, so he looked into charities and good causes.”

Tristan found the AT&T “Txting and Drivng … It Can Wait” campaign and it immediately struck a chord.

“Even before he got his license Tristan used to give me a hard time about checking my emails at stoplights,” Nunez said.

Tristan also liked the fact that the AT&T campaign presented a lot of information, such as the fact that drivers who text are 23 times as likely to have accidents, and teens send five times as many texts as adults. Teen drivers face the greatest risk.

“A lot of my friends have gotten into accidents. I know some people have died because they were texting and driving. So why not bring awareness to the public about such a big problem,” Tristan said.

“Texting and driving is just a huge distraction—people really don’t even know it. They just think it is so easy to drive—they don’t really understand the dangers of driving on the street.”

As someone who has survived high-speed wrecks, fires, and exploding engines, Tristan Nunez is very aware that driving—on the track or on the street—is serious business. He hopes to get that message across via Facebook and public appearances—and with the bold letters saying “Dn’t txt n drV” across the side of his racecar.

Tristan and his mother take the “Don’t Txt n Drv” campaign very seriously. Whenever they are not traveling to races, they are planning events at safety fairs and high schools, where the young driver can show off his car, talk to teens, and pass out pamphlets about the dangers of texting and driving. When he does autograph signings he doesn’t provide a photo of himself or his car, as many drivers do: he gives his fans a flier explaining the dangers of distracted driving.

“Whenever we have time…