PORT ORANGE —
Michael Lira, the 16-year-old professional race car driver from Port Orange is giving his time to a campaign that urges people, especially teens, not to text while driving.
As a professional driver, Lira knows the risks presented by distracted driving better than most, which is why he has decided to do something about it.
Lira has partnered with local personal injury attorneys Rue, Ziffra and Caldwell in a concentrated effort to promote a “Text-Free Zone” by raising awareness about the dangers of texting and driving.
“I’m a high school student myself, which puts me in a unique position to help out,” Lira said. “These are my friends and my classmates that I’m reaching out to. As their peer, someone they can relate to, my hope is that I’ll be able to inspire them to change where needed. Unfortunately, it’s an issue that affects teens in particular.”
Lira, now a junior at Spruce Creek High School, is doing everything that he can to get the word out.
He was recently featured in a public service announcement to support the no texting and driving campaign. Lira’s efforts also include several speaking engagements at local Volusia County schools, like Warner Christian Academy in South Daytona, which he is scheduled to visit in October.
“I’d like to speak at as many schools as I can,” Lira said. “Texting and driving is an issue that’s very important to me, because I see it first-hand every day. My friends and I are now reaching the legal driving age, and it’s so important that all of our attention is completely focused on the task of driving.”
Rue, Ziffra and Caldwell recently purchased a simulator designed to demonstrate the dangers of texting and driving to young drivers. The simulator features a 2014 Ford Mustang donated by Gary Yeomans Ford Lincoln. Lira’s father, former professional sports car racer Carlos Lira, is the Dealer Principal at Gary Yeomans Ford Lincoln, and has teamed up with his son in the fight against texting and driving.
“The millennial generation goes nowhere without their mobile phone,” Carlos Lira said. “They watch TV, attend school, sleep and of course drive with their mobile phone. That being said, Gary Yeomans Ford Lincoln is committed to bringing awareness and educating students about the dangers of text and driving as well as keeping their vehicle alcohol free.”
News 13’s parent company, Bright House Networks, is a partner in the campaign to bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving.
“On the race track, the slightest lapse in concentration can spell disaster,” Michael said. “Unfortunately, the same applies to driving on the road. The statistics tell us that 11 teens die every day in an accident involving texting and driving. You bet I’m going to do everything that I can to change that statistic.”
Michael heads to Toledo, Ohio, this weekend for the ARCA Racing Series race at Toledo Speedway. The Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. on May 18.