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Tackling Distracted Driving

Craig McClellan

A new initiative sponsored by the California Highway Patrol and UC San Diego's Training Research and Education for Driving Safety (TREDS) program will include classes designed to educate people about the dangers of distracted driving. The classes will begin in January at will be conducted at company worksites to help businesses reach employees concerning safe driving practices. The classes are part of a project known as Just Drive - Take Action Against Distraction. The program is the latest tool to bridge the gap between acknowledging the dangers of distracted driving and taking action to eliminate it.

Recent studies have shown that a majority of drivers believe that texting and driving is dangerous. Any activity that draws a driver's attention away from safe driving is hazardous. While many drivers acknowledge the dangers of distracted driving, they appear to believe the danger lies only in other people doing it. Texting and other smart phone activities conducted while driving are rising in almost every age group. A TREDS survey found that 83 percent of adults are texting, talking or using smart phone applications while driving. It takes an accident for many people to understand that they are not uniquely able to multitask behind the wheel.

The classes will present research from safety experts as well as examples of the dangers of distracted driving. The TREDS program director believes that the classes can make a difference in changing people's perceptions of distracted driving. She likened it to past efforts to convince the public of the dangers of drinking and driving. She pointed out another parallel, citing research that demonstrated that the increased risk of collision attached to talking on a cell phone while driving was equal to that of driving with a blood alcohol content of .08, the legal limit.