A Florida safe-driving nonprofit is giving a series of talks in South Florida designed to inform new and soon-to-be drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. The talks are given by emergency responders, car accident victims and others who understand the deadly consequences that can result from texting and driving. The program, known as “Put It Down,” presents teen drivers with the brutal truth about what a fatal accident entails. Injury victims describe their experiences. Police and EMTs describe the trauma they have seen. A personal injury lawyer even describes the financial cost a serious accident can have on a negligent driver.
It is not a simple matter to get teens to recognize the dangers of distracted driving. In 2010, more than 18,000 teens were injured in motor vehicle accidents and 144 teens died in traffic accidents. The program hopes that by forcing teens to confront the brutal reality of a car accident, they will be encouraged to pay more attention to their driving. The program emphasizes safe driving generally, as well as focusing on the specific messages of wearing seat belts and refraining from texting while driving. Studies have shown that teens are less likely than older drivers to wear seat belts and more likely to text and drive.
A Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office lieutenant describes some of what he’s seen and done in his work. He is responsible for cleaning up fatal car accident crash sites and for informing loved ones about fatal accidents. If the program was longer, he made it clear that he would show pictures of the crash scenes and show the carnage that car accidents cause. He pointed out that teens often take driving responsibilities seriously only when terms such as ‘vehicular homicide and ‘murder’ enter the picture.
Source: Sun Sentinel, “Group urges teens to ‘put it down,’ drive safely,” by Ben Wolford, 18 October 2012