Simulation teaches dangers of distracted driving

The Newtonite

by David Kwartler
Students at this school can participate in a two-part distracted driving course called Distractology 101 from next Tuesday through Saturday.
The program has traveled around Massachusetts, and several high schools have participated in the course.

“The goal of the training is to increase teens’ awareness of distracting driving,” said prevention/intervention counselor Alison Malkin. “Students will get a firsthand experience of how distractions interfere with their ability to react on the road, see hidden hazards and avoid accidents, all while safely behind the wheel of the simulator.”

The first part of the course is a 45-minute driving training session during a student’s free time before, during or after school or on Saturday. The mobile simulator truck, a large yellow trailer with a Distractology logo and computer system inside will be parked in the Lowell Avenue parking lot for the duration of the event.

The simulator will help students to understand the dangers of distracted driving. “The simulator is memorable and effective. We show new drivers that distractions are dangerous,” said Malkin. “It’s unsafe because your reaction time is delayed when something unexpected happens on the road in front of you, which you may have been able to avoid if not distracted.”

The second part of Distractology 101 is a 20-minute online reinforcement training, which includes a quiz, interactive lessons, videos and statistics. Anyone can access the training online. After completing both steps of the training, students will receive a free $15 gas card.

According to the course’s website, “the online training is fun, interactive and informative. It tests the lessons learned in the simulator with a quiz and is full of interesting statistics and thought-provoking videos,” said Malkin.

“Distractology 101 is an incredible opportunity for our students who have either their learner’s permit or driver’s license to take part in,” said Malkin. “They will experience first-hand what happens when one is driving and becomes distracted.”

The course was created by Arbella Insurance and Aronson Insurance. They are “sponsoring this campaign so our teens can have this experience for free, donating their time, effort and financial backing to promote safer driving,” said Malkin.

Distracted driving killed 3,092 people and injured over 416,000 in 2010, making up 18 percent of total crashes that year. “The course is fun, but the message is clear: distractions are dangerous,” said Malkin.