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Distracted Driving Training at Thayer Academy Next Week

Thayer Academy will host the Dowling Insurance Agency's Distractology 101 tour Feb. 3 - Feb. 7.

Mobile Classroom and High-Tech Driving Simulations Educate Young Drivers on the Dangers of Distracted Driving. Courtesy Image.
Mobile Classroom and High-Tech Driving Simulations Educate Young Drivers on the Dangers of Distracted Driving. Courtesy Image.
A 36-foot-long mobile classroom will set up outside Thayer Academy next week, 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 simulator will be at Thayer starting Monday, Feb. 3 at 8:10 a.m. Training will continue through Friday, Feb. 7 from 8:10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.  

More than 3,000 people are killed each year in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 are injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, according to a press release from the Dowling Insurance Agency, which will host the interactive Distractology 101 program developed by the Arbella Insurance Foundation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field at 55 mph, blind.

“Distracted driving is an epidemic that continues to worsen despite the public’s general awareness of its dangers,” John Donohue, chairman, president and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group, and chairman and president of the Arbella Insurance Foundation, said in a statement. 

“Distractology is an effective teaching tool because young drivers actually experience the feeling of a distracted driving crash scenario. They feel the shock of an unanticipated road hazard and the distress of a crash, but from the safety of the simulator. The simulation has a more lasting impact than reading about or watching a crash secondhand.”

The Distractology driving simulator, based on Arbella-funded research conducted with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMASS), has traveled to various communities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island during 2013, offering 45 minutes of simulated distracted driving to each participant. 

To date more than 5,700 new drivers, meaning those that have been licensed less than three years or have a learner’s permit have completed the Distractology 101 training, according to the release. In 2012, 97% percent of students surveyed said the experience was effective or extremely effective and 82% said they would recommend the experience to a friend.

“Since 2010, Distractology 101 has been teaching our communities’ young drivers to stay safe behind the wheel,” said Dave Rooney of Dowling Insurance Agency. “Just like the anti-drunk driving campaign of the ’80s and ‘90s, we hope that campaigns such as this one will make texting while driving as taboo and drinking and driving is today. We at Dowling Insurance Agency are proud to host the Distractology tour for our teens in Braintree.”

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