Distracted driving is becoming increasingly hazardous to other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Not paying attention to driving has always been a problem, but in the past, only music competed for the driver’s attention. Now drivers have smartphones on which they not only talk and dial, but text. Texting has become a major issue because it requires that the driver’s eyes leave the road ahead. These distracted driving statistics show how dangerous the problem has got nationally among teen drivers.
Education About Distracted Driving
To combat the distractions from driving, the Georgia Department of Transportation has partnered with Scholastic, a publishing house and media company for children, to engage in an educational effort to help future drivers learn the dangers of distracted driving. The program will be called “Recognizing the Risk.” The program will not only teach and warn future drivers about texting while driving but will teach and warn pedestrians as well. After all, a driver could operate a motor vehicle carefully, and in compliance with the law, yet still, run over a teenager who is texting.
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Builds Upon Prior Programs
The “Recognizing the Risk” program builds upon two prior Georgia DOT programs, called “Drive Alert Arrive Alive” and “See & Be Seen.” These are informative programs that are already in place to educate young people about safety while driving.
Why Middle School?
There are two reasons. First, middle schoolers can’t drive yet. There is time to teach the kids, through classroom activities, things to do and not to do to improve as drivers and avoid distracted driving.
Second, although middle schoolers can’t drive yet, it’s common for them to text while walking or wear earbuds or headphones that prevent them from hearing a car approach. By teaching them at this age, perhaps some lives can be saved even before the kids can’t drive yet.
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Deaths From Distracted Driving
As part of the announcement of the program, Russell R. McMurry, who is Georgia DOT’s Commissioner, explained that in 2018 there were 1,514 fatalities on Georgia roads due to distracted driving. Some 265 of those fatalities involved pedestrians. Hopefully, implementation of the “Recognizing the Risk” program will dramatically reduce the number of Georgia fatalities from distracted driving.
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