The following is a press release:
Teenage drivers will get a first-hand look at just how dangerous it is to text and drive, when The Arbella Insurance Foundation Distractology 101 tour rolls into Stoughton.
Hardy Insurance Agency will be bringing the state-of-the-art Distractology 101 tour to Stoughton during the week of August 27-31.
Distractology 101 is an interactive program developed by the Arbella Insurance Foundation to teach new drivers the dangers of distracted driving. The campaign features a 36-foot-long, neon-yellow mobile classroom outfitted with high-tech driving simulators designed to give new drivers the chance to experience the perils of distracted driving, including texting while driving.
The mobile classroom will be set up at Hardy Insurance Agency, located at 31 Tosca Drive in Stoughton. The tour will be available from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday - Thursday and from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday.
Nearly 5,500 people were killed and almost half a million were injured in accidents related to distracted driving (including text messaging) in 2009. Not surprisingly, research has found that text messaging increases the risk of a crash by 23 times.
In June 2011, more than 196 billion text messages were sent or received in the U.S., up nearly 50% from June 2009. Driving while distracted is particularly dangerous for teen drivers; in 2009, a startling 40% of American teens said they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.
In 2012 AAA found that electronics were the number one cause of distraction for teen drivers and that females were twice as likely as males to use their phones while driving.
“Distracted driving is a widespread epidemic among young drivers that continues to worsen, particularly as mobile devices become more prevalent, more advanced and more addictive,” said John Donohue, chairman, president and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group, and chairman and president of the Arbella Insurance Foundation.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 800,000 drivers are using a hand-held cell phone at any given moment but only 57% recognize it as a serious threat to their safety. This lack of awareness and understanding is quite startling. It is our hope that Distractology 101 will continue to tackle this naivety head on and force drivers to once and for all break their mobile phone addiction while on the road.”
To date a total of 3,798 new drivers, meaning those that have been licensed less than three years, have completed the Distractology 101 training. Last year, 94% percent of students surveyed said the experience was effective or extremely effective and 75% said they would recommend the experience to a friend, up from 64% in 2010.
“In just two years Arbella’s Distractology 101 campaign has made enormous strides in terms of combating distracted driving,” said Susan Hardy of Hardy Insurance Agency.
“The program’s mission is quite simple: to educate young drivers of the dangers of distracted driving and ultimately save the lives of teens living in communities such as Stoughton," she continued. "Research has indicated that this type of real life stimulation and education can truly help to change dangerous behavior and we at Hardy Insurance are proud to support this important mission.”
The Distractology driving simulator, based on Arbella-funded research conducted with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMASS), will travel to various communities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island during 2012, offering 45 minutes of simulated distracted driving to each participant. It made a stop at Cobb's Corner at the end of June.
During the driving simulator training — Distractology 101: A Crash Course on Distracted Driving — teens and other new drivers face a number of scenarios based on real-world examples, educating participants on how to anticipate hidden hazards, react to the road and avoid accidents. Participants also complete the online portion of the curriculum at www.DistractU.com and make a safe-driving pledge in order to complete the training.
To sign up for the free Distractology 101 training, contact Hardy Insurance Agency at (781) 341-8300.