We at Herb Chambers Honda of Seekonk were very proud to sponsor the Massachusetts Teen Distracted Driving Summit this past week. Brian, Timothy, and Matthew Salit, three brothers from Seekonk High School, created and ran this event to raise awareness of distracted driving among teens. Over 300 students from 30 high schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island attended!
Several speakers educated the audience on the evils of distracted driving, which is estimated to take the lives of 3,000 people per year. Teens have the highest crash rate, being the most inexperienced drivers. Driving while texting is on the rise among teens and adults (read Honda Mama’s take on the subject.) Some studies have indicated that texting while driving causes even worse impairment than drunk driving. One speaker called DWT “a triple threat: it takes hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, mind off driving.”
The first speaker, Mary Maguire of AAA, talked about the “3 Deadly Ds: Drunk, Distracted and Drowsy Driving.” It’s a topic that hit close to home for her because her son was nearly killed in an accident when he was driving drowsy. “Tired drivers always think they can make it just a little further,” she said, “All it takes is a couple seconds, and if you’re not wearing your seatbelt, it’s even more deadly.”
AT & T Film “From One Second to the Next”
Reggie Shaw told his story: he had been texting while driving and hit another car, killing two men. Shaw now goes around the country speaking against distracted driving. “It has been over 7 years, and I think about it every single day. I regret it every single day,” said Shaw. “Knowing that maybe one person says You know what, I am never going to text and drive helps me to carry on and do what I do here.”
Next, Joel Feldman of EndDD.org spoke about multitasking and inattention. His daughter Casey was killed by a driver who became distracted when reaching for a GPS. Feldman admits that even he is sometimes tempted to “drive distracted,” so he suggests having a plan to stay focused. “Driving is cognitively demanding,” said Feldman. “When you switch from driving to a secondary task like talking and listening, you lose 40 percent of your attention and function.” His organization’s PSA entitled “Just a Few Seconds” illustrates the tragedy that occurs when drivers take their eyes off the road, even for a moment.
After a brief lunch break, the audience heard from several other speakers including Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Julian Reis and Pat Driscoll from the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, and Danny Corcoran from sponsor Arbella Insurance.
As Brian Salit said when he and his brothers opened the Summit, the aim of the Summit is to provide “a new perspective on distracted driving.” Here’s to hoping the teens who attended will use that perspective to drive safely and “bring the message of safe driving back to schools, to save the lives of your peers.”
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