Phones Down, Heads Up

Almost 60 percent of crashes are due to distracted driving. This program aimed at teens hopes to change that.

In July 2009, 21-year-old Casey Feldman was hit and killed by a distracted driver. Her parents, Dianne Andersen and Joel Feldman, founded the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation that same year.

“End Distracted Driving” is a project from the CFMF in order to save lives from distracted driving by educating drivers, acting upon the issue and advocating against it.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, 37,461 people died on highways in 2016, which was a 5.6 percent increase from 2015. This is due to manual, visual and cognitive distractions. All three of these can involve texting, which is one of the main distractions while on the road.

The University of Utah conducted a study where they found that drivers who text or talk while driving are as impaired as someone intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit. Sending or receiving text messages means the driver could take their eyes off the road for around five seconds, which is equivalent to covering a football field if driving at 55 MPH.

It also has been proven that texting while driving increases the risk of crashing by 23 times.

Even though, many admit that they still reach for their phones while driving.

“I have sent a text while driving before. I just heard the ring and felt the need to answer it,” said senior Alison Cooney.

On March 6, Dunbar held the End Distracted Driving Seminar sponsored EndDD. The school partnered with Kentucky’s National Guard and area lawyers to present information from EndDD and to provide activities in the gym to simulate the dangers of distracted driving. 

“It is our hope this program will educate [students] on how their decisions to drive distracted or impaired could have tragic consequences,” College and Career Coach Mrs. Pamela Bates said.

While in the gym, students were able to participate in three different obstacle courses. The first involved students driving in a square while trying not to hit the cones in each corner. The second course had four poles in a zig-zag formation, and the third course was a larger area with more cones. All had to be completed while wearing impairment goggles.

“The goggles gave me the biggest headache, ” senior Kayla Wall said.

Another activity had students wearing goggles while walking a straight line and then touching their nose.

“I just took a walk down the gym wearing the goggles and it was pretty hard. I really can’t even imagine what it would be like driving,” senior Alex Graf said. “If I was driving I probably would’ve crashed or done something bad. If you’re under the influence just call a taxi or uber or something.”

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