This past Friday, Nov. 9, several local high school students joined the Rotary Club of Alpharetta to celebrate the end of a month-long pledge drive to commit to being a safe, distracted-free driver. The Interact Clubs of Cambridge, Independence and Milton High Schools canvassed cafeterias, football games and community events to raise awareness to the dangers of driving while texting and using the cell phone. By the end of October the three service clubs raised close to 3,000 pledges.
Any activity that diverts the attention of the driver is considered a distraction. However, texting while driving is especially concerning since it requires the driver’s visual, manual and cognitive attention. Sending or receiving a typical text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving through a football field at 55 mph blindfolded. Teenagers are especially at risk: teen drivers are more likely than any other age group to be involved in a fatal distraction-related crash.
The Interact Clubs, sponsored by Alpharetta Rotary, are doing their part to raise awareness and hold their peers accountable. They asked their classmates to take the pledge to drive distraction-free and to speak up if they are a passenger where the driver is occupied with other things besides the road ahead.
Parents can help continue to enforce the message of safe driving. Talk to your teenagers about the importance of keeping full focus on the road and away from the phone. Ask them to take the pledge if they have not done so already. Finally, consider taking the pledge as a family. Parents are the biggest influence to younger drivers and help form their habits.
Conversations with teenagers and raising awareness for distraction-free driving will help reduce the unnecessary risk of accidents and injury within our community. Please comment and share how distracted driving has affected you or how you have discussed what it means to be a safe driver with your teenager. Visit Distraction.gov for more information about the dangers of distracted driving.