Habit is an understatement. According to Staton, the National Safety Council blames 200,000 annual automobile crashes on vehicle operators trying to text and drive. Cell phone use alone constitutes 1.4 million accidents.
The students - Jeff Crouch, Nancy Crouch, Casey Crum, Marlene Garcia, Louisa Kirkbride, Jeff Marsh, Mark Leonard, Christine Rowden, Justin Boyd and Staton – researched the recent history of distracted driving and developed a brochure that is available for any student driver, parent or school district to use when educating young drivers on the consequences of driving and texting.
“Texting and driving puts millions of Americans at risk every day,” Staton said. “That risk continues to grow as texting becomes more wide spread. According to statistics, drivers continue to put other drivers in danger due to this habit.”
The brochure – which is available to anyone requesting it through CAC Professor Gayle Haro – contains some startling information:
Distracted driving crashes killed more than 5,400 people and injured nearly 500,000 in 2009.
Reaction time is delayed for a driver talking on a cell phone as much as it is for a driver who is legally drunk.
Drivers who are texting take their eyes off the road more when they are texting.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,092 people in 2010; texting behind the wheel increased 50% during this same time period; and at any given time, 1% of drivers are using handheld devices.
“By compiling and distributing this information to the college campus and center sites, and also to Pinal County high school campuses, team members hope to send a clear message to students that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of a motor vehicle injury or fatality - not only to them but for other drivers,” Staton said. “We hope to open the eyes of our young people to show them the very real dangers in texting and driving.”
While most class projects end with the conclusion of the semester as students move on in their lives, the students of this particular project hope to keep this message - and anyone riding in a vehicle - alive.
“This is serious business and every life lost for texting and driving is someone’s loved one,” Staton said. “We as a community must come together and help teach our children that the split second your eyes are off the road could result in another victim. That baby in the back seat sleeping so peacefully could be killed, or the parents of the graduating teen on their way to watch them start their lives only to be taken to the morgue not the graduation ceremony. It happens every second of every day - we lose those we love and cherish; to lose them from something that can be prevented is the worst of all.”