Event provides teens with the tools to start and continue the conversation on the dangers of distracted driving
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the Auto Alliance, Ford representatives, and a Chicago Improv troupe talk to students at East Valley Institute of Technology about the dangers of distracted driving.
MESA, Ariz.—If you’re a teenager, how do you tell drivers—friends, parents or others—that they need to focus on the road?
Today, nearly 1,000 students learned just that, when the “Decide to Drive” campaign, sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance), came to East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) in Mesa, Ariz.
“Decide to Drive” hosted two events at the school at 1601 W. Main St.—one in the morning, and one in the afternoon—that included an introductory video, skits, and interviews with local school officials, AAOS President John R. Tongue, MD, and Ford Driving Skills for Life lead driving expert Mike Speck, who has more than 20 years of experience as a high-performance instructor and professional racer. Students were asked to share their distracted driving views and experiences, and learned how to start the sometimes awkward and uncomfortable conversation about distracted driving with peers, parents and other drivers. In addition, they received tips and materials to help ensure that they, and anyone who drives, keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
“Orthopaedic surgeons are the medical doctors who put bones and limbs back together after road crashes and trauma,” said Dr. Tongue. We want to prevent distracted driving injuries, especially among young drivers, and keep them and their passengers safe and strong for life.”
“Speed management, space management, vehicle handling and hazard recognition are the four key areas that we focus on when teaching teens the skills they need to be safer drivers,” said Jim Graham, manager of the Ford Driving Skills for Life program, which will be in Arizona Dec. 5-8. “Experts have identified the lack of these skills to be the cause of approximately 60 percent of vehicle crashes for newly licensed drivers, ages 16 to 18. Then throw distractions like texting into the mix and the risks increase.”
In 2010, approximately 415,000 Americans were injured in distracted driving-related crashes, and there were an estimated 3,092 fatalities in distraction-affected crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The results of an AAOS-Harris Interactive survey showed that 94 percent of drivers believe that distracted driving is a problem in the U.S. while 89 percent believe it is a problem within their own communities.
Since 2009, orthopaedic surgeons and automakers have urged drivers to “decide to drive” behind the wheel and to avoid texting, eating, talking on the phone and to passengers, and other distractions while driving. The award-winning awareness/prevention campaign includes an interactive website; print,
television and radio public service advertisements; an elementary school educational curriculum that was distributed to 10,000 5thand 6thgrade classrooms across the country; and active social media outreach.
“For young drivers—or any driver, for that matter—their first priority is the safe operation of their car or truck which means eyes on the road and hands on the wheel,” said Auto Alliance Vice President of Safety Robert Strassburger. “Going out into schools and talking to students is one of the best ways we can spread that message. Our efforts also help to empower parents to communicate our ‘Decide to Drive’ guidance forward even further.”
Chicago Improv actor, Mark Sutton, moderates the "Decide to Drive" program in Mesa, Ariz.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons President John R. Tongue, MD (left) speaks to East Valley Institute of Technology students about the dangers of distracted driving.
Ford Driving Skills for Life lead instructor, Mike Speck, talks to EVIT students about one of the most important things they could do: decide to drive.
Decide to Drive
Ford Driving Skills for Life
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