Simulations show perils of distracted driving

March 13, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Jeb Keller, left, and Greg Chandler try to navigate remote-controlled cars while wearing DUI-simulating goggles Tuesday at the Waynesboro (Pa.) Country Club.
Photo by Jennifer Fitch

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Remote-control cars, a memory game and video-game controllers served Tuesday as tools to educate motorists about the perils of distracted driving.

Communities That Care joined Franklin County (Pa.) Drug & Alcohol and the Rotary Club of Waynesboro to host a luncheon about distracted driving.

Held at the Waynesboro Country Club, the luncheon featured guest speakers from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

“Distracted driving is a big concern for PennDOT. We’re very happy there is a texting law in place,” said Fritzi Schreffler, safety press officer for District 8.

Pennsylvania’s texting-while-driving prohibition went into effect Thursday.

Carrie Mowen, 17, attended the luncheon through Waynesboro Area Senior High School’s Future Business Leaders of America. She said she usually wins Nintendo Wii racing games, but found them much more challenging while holding a phone in one hand.

“I guess my perception was pretty off,” she said.

Y’vette Gayle, who works in a traffic-injury prevention program, set up the video game and instructed guests to try it with and without phones in one hand.

She also had a station where guests participated in a memory game during a distracting conversation, and another where they operated remote-controlled cars while wearing goggles that simulated being drunk.

“The demonstrations are very helpful in showing how compromised your ability is to operate a vehicle while doing something else,” said John Frey, president of the Rotary Club of Waynesboro.

“I think it was kind of hard to drive (in the game) and answer the phone,” said Amanda Brown, 16.

Schreffler said her friend died two years ago in a vehicle crash caused by a driver who was driving under the influence and texting. After that, Schreffler and the woman’s other friends pledged to minimize their distractions while driving.

In one Indiana County, Pa., accident, the driver had duct-taped a cellphone to the car’s steering wheel to hold it for texting, according to Schreffler.

There was a time when someone swerving or changing speeds was assumed to be impaired by alcohol, Schreffler said.

“Unfortunately, the reality is now they’re often on their phones,” she said.

“It’s been proven multitasking is a myth. ... You’re actually taking your mind from the first event you’re doing,” Gayle said.

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