Car crashes are the number one killer of teens, and distracted driving is a huge factor. Sending one text message while driving is equivalent to that of having consumed four beers, essentially driving drunk.
With statistics like this, Allstate Insurance is working to inform America’s teen drivers.
On Oct. 6, students from Corona del Sol High School, accompanied by their parents, streamed into Firebird Raceway in Chandler for a day of activities to do together.
Participants used their own cars, driving around the track and completing a total of four different challenges: A baseline run (no distractions); driving while talking on the phone; driving while texting; and driving with passenger distractions.
Quite an eye-opener, as it turned out. Allstate does the event annually, but every year it changes a little.
“A difference today is we have teens and their parents going through the course,” said Kari Mather with Allstate’s corporate relations. “Other years we have had just teens, but we have found parents are the most influential people in teens’ lives.”
“I think it was beneficial to my mom because now she understands she shouldn’t be doing it either, and to set a good example,” Corona sophomore Lilly Berkley said.
“I think it’s great for the parents, they get to do it themselves. They realize, ‘wow I don’t drive as good as I think I do’,” Media relations representative for Chandler Police Department Joe Favazzo said. “And when mom or dad are driving down the road texting or drinking coffee and eating a sandwich and trying to talk on the phone and all these distractions, kids are watching that and think if mom or dad can do it I can do it’.”
This program is brilliant for a number of reasons, and one of them being students can see consequences of their actions behind the wheel, and get immediate feedback before they try the dangerous procedures on the streets.
“We see these students drive through here with no distractions. Then you put a distraction in their hand and they get to experience firsthand what it’s like to have to react to something,” Favazzo said. “They don’t have to actually rear end a vehicle or hit a person in a cross walk. It gives these students a chance to see reaction times. In fact, I just saw a student take out a few cones.”
Favazzo has children who participated in one of these Allstate programs about eight years ago, but he remarked that the stereo was the biggest distraction at that point in time.
“Distracted driving is becoming a problem we didn’t see before in law enforcement,” Favazzo said. “Because with new technology, we are very social we like to talk and text, it’s become a new challenge for drivers and for law enforcement.”
But what can be done about this dangerous habit that has been picked up by a majority of American’s?
“We are looking at the possibility of putting together a city code in the city of chandler, prohibiting texting while driving,” Favazzo said.
“The reason laws go into effect unfortunately, is we as citizens do bad behavior over and over again, so we have to make a law saying ‘okay now stop doing this or you will be punished,’ Favazzo said. “So now we have to treat adults and children and say there will be no texing and driving, it’s time to drive.”
It can be agreed upon that distracted driving endangers yourself and those around you. In addition, it can be said that the distractions are ultimately unnecessary, or can wait until you’re parked.
“I drive down the road everyday and glancing side to side I see adults driving and texting, I see women putting makeup on and drinking hot coffee, it’s very dangerous,” Favazzo said. “Put your makeup on and eat at home. When we’re driving we should be driving, for the safety of all of those around us.”
Moving forward, we as a community can take steps toward a safer drivers and a safer road for the community to share.
“We as parents we need to teach our children, and as children we need to see that we are the future, we’re the ones that need to start setting examples as well. Share with your friends that texting while driving isn’t safe,” Favazzo said.
It was apparent students and their parents greatly enjoyed the warm fall day of activities, and the coordinators, law enforcement, and Allstate employees we’re satisfied with the results. Students had a fun time, learning how to become safer drivers.
“As a new driver, I now know that I can wait to reply to that text message, or answer that phone call,” Berkley said.