By Lexi Rynning
Yesterday, I crashed four times and killed an innocent pedestrian walking in a crosswalk, all because I was distracted. It was only a simulation in which those dangerous events happened, but it could have been very real. And it was all because of distracted driving. I took part in Distractology, a program sponsored by Arbella Insurance to educate drivers about safety behind the wheel and brought to HHS by the Guidance Department. The simulation was very eye-opening to say the least. About 3,100 people are killed and 424,000 people injured from distracted driving accidents each year.
Before taking Distractology, I wasn’t aware of the number of possible hazards. Even without distractions — such as changing music, checking your phone, eating, or any number of other things we often do while driving — there are a lot of hidden hazards. I was confidently taking a left turn in the simulator, with no phone or music playing, and a car rammed into my side. A huge truck was in the way, so I took the turn without being aware of the oncoming traffic that had the right of way.
In another scenario in the simulator, I was on a highway with a speed limit of 55 mph, and I was changing my music. Most people don’t think of this as dangerous as they barely take their eyes off the road. But when I looked at my phone for just a second, I slowed down dramatically to about 45 mph and was no longer steering in a straight line. Then, a pickup truck changed lanes when I was looking at my phone. I looked up and saw him do it, but I didn’t have enough time to slow down. I slammed on my brake, but I didn’t have enough of a reaction time. I crashed into the back of the truck, and my windshield shattered. Something as seemingly harmless as skipping a song can drastically change your life.
This is a very real threat in our society today and, while people are aware of the risks, many have never experienced the consequences so they think it can’t happen to them. But I can promise you it does. Anything can happen while you are the road. People don’t always follow the rules of the road, blowing through stop signs or going when they don’t have the right of way. If you aren’t 100 percent focused on the road, you won’t have enough time to react. Before going into this, I had no idea how dangerous distractions really could be. I highly recommend taking this course to gain the experience of a car crash without actually getting into one. This was a very eye-opening experiment for me, and I can promise I will try my best to never get distracted while driving.
There are some perks you get for taking this course, which travels to schools around the state. I got a $15 gas card. You might also qualify for a discount on your insurance. I also have a shot of winning a $500 scholarship. If you do it for no other reason than to get the gas card, you will still learn something very important about distracted driving. I am very glad Hanover High School offered this program and I will be way more cautious when I am on the road.