Distracted driving is defined as any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystanders. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2014 there were 3,129 fatalities and 431,000 injuries attributed to distracted driving-related motor vehicle crashes. During that same time period, 10% of all fatalities involving drivers 15-19 years of age were reported to have been distracted at the time of the crash.
In an effort to continue to promote education and encourage positive changes in driving behavior, the Newport Police Department, in cooperation with the Newport High School Leadership Class, brought an educational distracted driving event to the students of Newport High School. The event was Monday, 04/18/2016, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
The program is in partnership with State Farm Insurance; it is called “Talk To You Later. Got To Go Drive.” Or in text message language, “TTYL GTG DRV”. For this event, students operated a golf cart through a traffic cone course in an open parking lot of the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. Students had to negotiate the course which consisted of stop signs, curves, backing, and parallel parking. Student drivers navigated the course while attempting to carry on a text message conversation with another student observing from the sideline.
The second phase of the event focused on the dangers of impaired driving. Students wore Fatal Vision goggles. They are commonly referred to as “Drunk Goggles”. The students had the opportunity to participate in the physical portions of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests or SFST’s. This included the Walk and Turn as well as the One Leg Stand. These are the same standardized tests officers use roadside to help gauge the level of driver impairment. Finally, students were provided an opportunity to operate the golf cart on a modified portion of the course while wearing the “Drunk Goggles”.
The goal of the day was to provide the student body of Newport High School with the opportunity to see the real dangers of distracted and impaired driving in a controlled environment. The Newport Police Department hopes that this event will not only give the students who participated the tools necessary to make positive choices, but also will encourage positive choices by their peers as well. A special thanks goes out to the Tillamook Police Department and State Farm Insurance for use of the golf cart.