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NEW: Realistic Simulations to Educate Teens on Distracted Driving

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

 

Multitasking behind the wheel leads to an estimated 6,000 deaths each year.

McGrath Insurance announced today that it will bring its state-of-the-art Distractology 101 Tour to Central Mass to educate new drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

Distractology 101™ is an interactive educational program developed by the Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation, and will be in McGrath Insurance's Sturbridge offices at 258 Main Street for a week, beginning Monday July 16th. The program is a driving simulator that will present participants with a number of scenarios based on real-world examples to  illustrate the hidden hazards of distracted driving.

“We’re proud to be partnering with Arbella to educate teens and other new drivers about the dangers of distracted driving,” said McGrath Insurance President Richard McGrath. “This is about saving the lives of our kids in the Sturbridge area. We hope parents and teens will recognize the importance of this education effort. Training like this could be the difference between being safe and being a statistic.”

Distracted driving has become a serious problem with the rising popularity of text messaging and smart phones. Each year, nearly 6,000 people are killed due to multitasking behind the wheel. Statistics also show that people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash than barely avoid one, and studies have shown that driving while distracted is the equivalent of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08.

Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation hopes that through education, they can lower these staggering numbers.

“Drunk driving was the first epidemic,” said John Donohue, chairman, president and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group and chairman and president of the Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation. “Those numbers went down because of education efforts, not just tougher laws. We want to use that strategy to attack the distracted driving problem. Laws are useful, but they alone won’t change behavior.”

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst conducted Arbella-sponsored research on distracted driving. The University also created the simulations used in the program's training sessions. The driving simulator tour will travel throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island over the next three years on an educational tour.

“During their first month on the road, novice drivers are six times more likely than drivers with a year’s driving experience to be in a fatal crash,” said Dr. Donald L. Fisher, professor and department head at the College of Engineering, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a national expert on distracted driving. “In our lab, we have developed a program for Arbella that mimics real-life driving. Evaluations of this program suggest that it makes novice drivers substantially more likely to engage in behavior that will help them avoid crashes."

 

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