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Medical center fighting distracted driving one step at a time

There is no question that texting while driving has reached near epidemic levels here in the United States. Consider statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which show that in 2011 alone 3,331 people were killed and another 387,000 injured in distracted driving-related car accidents.

What’s even more surprising is that these numbers have continued to climb despite the fact that many states have passed laws expressly banning cell phone use behind the wheel. Here in New Jersey, we continue to see people’s lives changed forever by drivers who choose to openly flout our state’s laws banning talking and texting by all motorists.

For instance, tragedy struck West New York this past Tuesday when a bus driver accidentally struck a lamppost, which fell over and landed on a stroller carrying an eight-month-old child. While the fatal accident is still under investigation, law enforcement officials believe the bus driver was on his phone when he struck the lamppost.

Interestingly, a medical facility here in the Garden State has devised a so-called Distracted Driving Course that they hope will help prevent just these kinds of dangerous distracted driving accidents.

Put on by the Jersey City Medical Center, the course consists of having a participant make their way through a winding walking path complete with stop signs, crosswalks and a host of other traffic signals that a motorist would encounter. While this sounds easy enough, the participant is also given a calculator and asked to enter a math equation as they make their through the course without any mistakes.

Not surprisingly, the passage rates are typically low.

“We’re basically causing a distraction, we’re basically asking you to do something and then distracting you while you do it. Which is the same as you’re driving a car and you’re texting or on your phone at the same time,” said one of the officials behind the course.

The Jersey Medical Center has already put the program on for several corporations and will soon present it to Port Authority officials. Here’s hoping that it can continue to help drivers remember the importance of keeping their cell phones turned off.

Source: CBS New York, “N.J. Medical Center offers Distracted Driver Course to end ‘epidemic,’” July 31, 2013

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