Explaining the danger of distracted driving in a classroom setting is a challenge. It is impossible to impress upon a soon-to-be new driver the horror of a fatal car accident by describing it. Admonishing a young person to “drive carefully” is unlikely to inspire any change in that person’s behavior. That is particularly true when the person delivering the message is an adult instructor or parent. The Broward Sheriff’s Office is working with students to create a message that will resonate with young people. They use peer to peer influence and simulations to show just why distracted driving needs to be avoided.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office set up a mock car accident using two crushed cars, fake blood, four fire trucks and students as actors in the fatal scene. Other students took pictures and the entire scene was filmed to produce a five-minute public service announcement video. Realistic elements such as the use of the jaws of life to cut open the mangled cars and remove the accident “victims” are intended to give the appropriate gravity to the situation.
In the end, it may be impossible to get some young drivers to take responsibility for safe driving until it is too late. An accident seems like a remote possibility, while an incoming text is immediate. Teens, as well as many adults, simply do not appreciate the danger of taking their attention off the road and giving it to their cell phones. The results can be tragic.
The effort may not prevent every distracted driving accident, but it may prevent some. If enough teens can be made to understand the dangers of distracted driving, they may be able to influence their peers into changing their attitude. Distracted driving will continue to cost people their lives as long as it is accepted conduct to so many. The law can make it illegal, but only societal pressures can make it taboo.
Source: Sun Sentinel, “Students get crash course in distracted driving,” by Karen Yi, 26 March 2013