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Recent Studies and Driving Simulators Aim to Educate and Reduce Risks of Distracted-Driving Car Accidents in Massachusetts

A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham concludes that about a third of all college students are using cell phone applications while they’re behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. These findings reiterate the dangers of you being involved in a car accident in Massachusetts.
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Our Boston car accident attorneys understand that it is illegal for any driver in the state to be sending or reading text messages while they’re operating a motor vehicle. This is a primary offense and drivers can be pulled over and ticketed. These citations come with good intentions — to keep motorists safe on our roadways.

The recent study surveyed more than 90 students who owned and used a smart phone or another device that operates web-based applications at least four times a week. Nearly 40 percent of the students surveyed reported that they use the applications while they drive. Another 10 percent said that they regularly use the apps while driving.

“The participants seemed to understand that using mobile apps while driving is dangerous, and some have even experienced motor vehicle crashes while using mobile apps, but they continue to do it,” study author and psychology student Lauren McCartney.

McCartney says that she’s going to present the research to the American Psychological Association convention that’s being held this month in Washington, D.C., according to KSTC 45.

Operating a motor vehicle is a complex process. Driving requires significant cognitive and perceptual skills. Drivers are oftentimes forced to make split-second decisions. These decisions can’t be made and executed adequately if they’re distracted by cell phone apps.

“The fact that 10 percent of college students with smartphones are ‘often’ are using them while driving is astounding — the fact that 35 percent ‘sometimes’ do is equally concerning,” said David Schwebel, director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab.

To help combat the problem and to raise some awareness in these college-aged drivers, the Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation is heading a project that allows young drivers to use a driving simulator. The program allows these motorists to experience the dangerous and probable outcomes of texting behind the wheel.

The program is called Distractology 101 and consists of a distracted driving simulator. The simulator is in a company van and travels from spot to spot attracting student with it’s video-arcade appearance in hopes of educating teen driver about the dangers of texting while driving, a term that the Foundation has dubbed “drexting.”

The simulator looks just like the inside of a real car, with a steering wheel, brakes and speedometers. Here’s how it works: Students have to navigate their way through three different scenarios. They make the trip twice, once without distractions and once while texting behind the wheel.

An instructor of the program, Topher Paone, sends the participants texts during their second trip through the course. They have to read the message out loud as they drive the simulator, according to Medway.

“I’ve got a lot of kids who think they’re really good at everything, and then they end up crashing,” Paone said.

There aren’t very many students that are able to get through the course without crashing while they’re reading or writing text messages. Others may not crash, but their maneuvers are in fact illegal.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident with a distracted driver in Massachusetts, contact the drunk driving accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.

Additional Resources:

Simulator helps teens see that texting and driving don’t mix in Medway, by Whitney Clearman, Medway
More Blog Entries:

Massachusetts Car Accidents Cost Big Bucks in Medical Costs and Lost Work Days, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, August 19, 2011

The NTSB Releases Most Wanted Drivers List – Includes Boston Drunk Drivers, Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, July 8, 2011