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Civil Trial: Texting While Driving

This activity is based on a civil suit arising from a car crash that may have been caused by texting while driving. In the trial simulation, participants play different roles and learn about some of the legal and long-term consequences that can arise from texting while driving.

About these Resources

  • Follow the agenda as a guide during a classroom or courtroom event.
  • Read the fictional scenario describing a car accident involving a high school driver who may have been texting while driving on a federal parkway.
  • The witness stand script provides all the speaking parts for the civil trial simulation.
  • Use the jury instructions to help determine the verdict.
  • The discussion questions set out situations that could have legal consequences for teens.

General Resources

These trial tools provide structure for participation in the civil trial simulation.

How to Use these Resources

This trial simulation can be done in the classroom or courtroom. In a classroom, students play all the parts in this scripted simulation. In a courtroom, a real federal judge presides and attorneys coach the student lawyers at the counsel tables. Pre-assigned students play the parts of witnesses. All other students are jurors who deliberate in groups of 12.

The trial simulation is followed by a conversation with probation officers about a series of situations — like texting while driving — that young people do not realize can have legal and long-term consequences. Use the discussion questions to stimulate critical thinking.

In Advance of the Program

Read the preparatory handouts for teachers, teacher-selected students with speaking parts, and host judges (if in a courtroom). Only students with speaking parts receive the script before or during the simulation. Four participants are chosen in advance to be the attorneys — two for the plaintiff and two for the defense. Witnesses are chosen in advance and read the script for their testimony.

During the Program

  1. Start by review the agenda to see a timeline of the activity.
  2. Read the fiictional scenaro describing the accident.
  3. Assign speaking roles and read the witness stand script.
  4. Start the jury deliberation using the jury instructions to determine the verdict.
  5. Check for understanding using the discussion questions.