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04 October 2015

Students Learn Texting is Bigger Threat Than Drunk Driving

Students learn texting is bigger threat than drunk driving
by Drew Bracken, newarkadvocate.com, 
21 September 2015

Granville High School students got an eye-opener about the dangers of distracted driving Friday. The Arrive Alive Tour from UNITE came to the school with a high-tech simulator, impact video and a number of other resources to educate the students about the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving.

“I only have really limited experience driving but this really showed me something,” said 15-year-old sophomore Grace Petryk “I was the fastest crash of the day. I thought people drive drunk all the time but it was spectacularly awful.”

One of the most commonly recognized driving distractions is cell phone use. And drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not surprisingly, they text more than any other age group, and the number of young drivers who text is reportedly only increasing.

“Texting is three times more dangerous than drinking and driving,” said Taylor Rivette, a spokesperson for Arrive Alive. “You’re more likely to be in a fatal accident while texting, 23 percent more, because 100 percent of your attention is taken off the road when you look at your phone.”

“Usually when people drink,” Rivette added, “they drive very hard to not get caught drinking and driving.

So they will spend all their attention on the road and really try to focus. But when you’re texting, 100 percent of that’s off the road. So if you’re going 55 miles per hour, and the average text takes about 4 or 5 seconds, that’s going a whole football field without looking, without knowing what you’re doing.”

The simulator allowed students to experience the potential consequences of drunk and distracted driving in a controlled environment.

“I think these kids think they’re invincible, nothing will ever happen,” said Amy Petryk, RN, the nurse at Granville Intermediate School. “So hopefully we’re empowering them to see in a safe environment what it’s like to text and drive and drink and drive. It has more of an impact sitting in a car and actually seeing it, in a safe environment, that having even two drinks in two hours, how they are impaired, how they can’t actually stay in a line.”

GHS health teacher Karly Worrell agreed teaching young people they’re not invincible is a tough sell.

“I think it’s hard to reach them at this age because they’ve heard all this information about right and wrong, so they just sort of zone out and become numb to that,” Worrell said. “So this is trying to snap them back into reality, that this is something that can actually happen.”

Rivette said the Granville students did seem to take the message to heart.

“Surprisingly, I am very pleased with how mature these students are and how serious they take things,” Rivette said. “These kids have been fantastic and very cooperative. But I would also say they do about the same in the same scenario, which is to say not well at all.”

All of which led GHS Principal Matt Durst to conclude, “The students are hearing neither is a good situation but, really, when we see it played out, texting is four times worse than what the alcohol does to you.”

“The take-home is put your cell phone away when you’re in the car,” Durst added. “And if you’re riding with a buddy, your buddy takes the message for you and they’re the one who responds. I hope we can get kids to have the mentality it’s not worth it because of the potential for risk.”

About UNITE

UNITE brings health and wellness programs to high schools, colleges and communities across the nation. Its programs are designed to heighten awareness to the dangers and consequences of drunk and distracted driving. For more information contact UNITE at 888-436-3394.

http://www.newarkadvocate.com/story/news/local/granville/2015/09/21/granville-high-school-arrive-alive-texting/72556138/

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