At 15, NASCAR Racer Drives Home Point About Texting and Driving

Speed isn't the only goal for Andrew Murray, who will become the youngest driver in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West later this month

When Andrew Murray races in a NASCAR event later this month in Roseville, he'll still need a ride to the track from his parents.

Murray turned 15 years old Monday, meaning he's six months away from getting a provisional driver's permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, but not too young to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race on Oct. 15. He'll become the youngest driver in that series' nearly 60-year history.

"I get to drive to school, but I still have to have my mom in the passenger's seat," Murray, of Temecula, said when asked whether he was excited about getting his learner's permit.

Like many professional race car drivers, Murray started small -- go-kart racing. He drove karts for seven years and learned the basics from several instructors.

"I had a lot of driving coaches teaching me driving lines, and now it's just all about getting comfortable with the car and learning your lines as you go," Murray said.

He has earned respect among fellow drivers. When he's with them, it's racer talk -- car setup, pit strategy, track conditions.

But when he's with his teen-age classmates, Murray takes on a more important subject -- the dangers of texting and driving.

"Being a race car driver, I know what little distraction you can have while driving and get into an accident because of it," Murray said.

In California, it's a violation to write, send, or read text-based communication on a wireless device when operating a motor vehicle.

But nearly 86 percent of teens admit to texting while driving, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. That's a frightening statistic, but Murray presents other numbers that drive home his point.

For example, drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident when texting and driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

"What I want them to know is texting while driving is very, very dangerous," he said. "When I talk to (my friends) about all the stats, it impacts them."

Related: Pledge to Make Our Roads Safer

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