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Kentucky Simulates Distracted-Driving Dangers

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Armed with statistics showing driver inattention is a factor in many crashes, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety uses a driving simulator to educate drivers, particularly young drivers, about the dangers of distracted driving.

From high schools to shopping malls to community events, the D2 distracted driving simulator puts teens and adults behind the wheel and shows them the risk of trying to pay attention to the road while texting or talking on the cellphone.

Many teens think they can write text messages without looking at their phones. But texting requires drivers to remove at least one hand from the wheel, hurting their ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Drivers also must avert their eyes from the road to read incoming texts. The D2 simulator shows how texting causes teen drivers to react slowly to sudden changes on the road, such as cars or motorcycles pulling in front of them, and often end up crashing.

National studies report that 80 percent of vehicle crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve driver inattention within three seconds of the incident, according to the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. Main distractions are changing the radio, talking to passengers, eating and drinking and using a cellphone.

Driver distraction contributed to more than 52,500 crashes in Kentucky in 2013, resulting in 9,000 injuries and 163 deaths. Those account for 43 percent of crashes and 25 percent of fatal wrecks.

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety offers these tips to manage distractions:

  • Put 100 percent of your attention on driving.
  • Focus on defensive driving and be aware of other drivers, including unexpected moves.
  • Don’t talk or text on a cellphone or other electronic device while driving. Pull over if you must talk or text.
  • Don’t eat while driving. Pull over instead.
  • Give yourself a two-second cushion between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
  • Avoid speeding, which reduces your time to react in an emergency.
  • Wear your seatbelt.
  • Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

With technology becoming an integral part of people’s lives, the Kentucky initiative offers an important reminder: “One text or call could wreck it all.” A single mistake could lead to a terrible car accident that could change your life or someone else’s forever.

The statistics are overwhelming when it comes to the impact of distracted driving. Do yourself and others a favor and put your cellphone away until you reach your destination.