One week removed from Arbella’s Distractology 101, I’ve found myself far more aware of the dangers of distracted driving. It’s easy to recognize when a fellow driver is more focused on the text they just received than the road ahead of them. From teen drivers sending text messages, businessmen replying to emails, and women putting on make-up, distracted driving is an ever-present danger on the road. It takes one, split-second distraction for a tragedy to occur, a tragedy that is easily preventable with a little common sense and self-restraint.
According to a recent U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, one in three teen drivers admits to texting or emailing while driving, a staggering statistic (you can find an article on the study here!). While the turnout of young drivers last week came as a beacon of hope that teens are more aware of the dangers of distracted driving, or at least making an attempt to be, this statistic proves otherwise. Upon completing the simulation, one driver told me that while the demonstration was powerful, it is unrealistic to think that teen drivers already in the habit of texting and driving will not stop unless something terrible happens. I tried to retort but found myself struggling to prove the young driver wrong. Fortunately, companies like Arbella and AT&T will not accept complacency and have launched campaigns to stop it. Arbella’s Distractology 101 aims to prevent teens from developing such a habit, introducing them to the dangers of distracted driving before they can develop an irreversible bad habit. AT&T approached the problem with a different perspective, launching an ad campaign displaying the violent consequences of texting and driving. The slogan of AT&T’s ad campaign is “It Can Wait”; such a simple phrase teen drivers have had a difficult time comprehending. In 2010, AT&T launched a deeply moving documentary, seen here, of teen drivers injured or killed as a result of texting and driving. If these very violent, very real stories of the dangers of texting and driving cannot deter teens from doing so, it’s difficult to see what will.
Several Murray & MacDonald employees tested the Distractology driving simulator and more often than not had the same had the same results as most of the 50+ teen drivers who participated. If the employees, some who have been driving since before the teen drivers were born, can’t make it through the simulation unscathed, then it’s safe to say that no one should be texting and driving!