Students savvy about distracted driving

On May 22, the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board held its annual awards breakfast, where recognition is given to the top enforcement officers from each enforcement agency in the county. Also recognized were three senior students from Franklin Academy’s driver education class, chosen for their award-winning essays on driver safety. Following are excerpts from these essays.

Jordyn Bilow recognizes that summertime is dangerous for teen drivers. With bare roads, speeds tend to increase. Coupled with the overconfidence of teen drivers on bare roads, faster speeds make losing control easier. Add driver distraction into the mix, and it becomes a recipe for danger. She says driver distractions are always present, but they increase in summertime, with far more things to look at on the streets and roads, increasing the dangers of distraction for all drivers and especially teens.

Jordyn states that cellphones are the number-one distraction. She says people, especially teens, overestimate their ability to use their phones while driving. She points out that the average time it takes to read a text message is five seconds; at 55 mph, this is equal to driving the length of a football field blind.

Jordyn recognizes how dangerous distracted driving can be, concluding her essay with this quote: “Stay smart, stay safe, and remember, the text can wait.”

Aimee Fleury also knows about distracted driving. Her essay dealt with the distractions caused by pets in cars. She points out that currently only three states (Rhode Island, New Jersey and Hawaii) have passed legislation requiring restraints on animals while driving, with Hawaii’s being the strictest, prohibiting a driver from allowing an animal to interfere with his/her control of the vehicle.

Aimee realizes that driving with a pet on your lap is an immense distraction. She says statistics show that 65 percent of pet owners admit to petting their dog or letting them on their lap while operating a vehicle. Furthermore, she points out, it is dangerous for the pet. In the event of a crash a pet could turn into a projectile – harming both the pet and others in the vehicle.

Aimee concludes that if you cause a crash because of your pet’s distraction, you could be liable for damages.

“Keep your furry passengers safe, and don’t allow yourself to be distracted and possibly hit someone else’s companion,” says Aimee.

Tucker Bartenslager knows from experience how important it is to keep focused completely on the task of driving. He told of an incident where he was not completely thinking about his driving and, had he not stopped at the “stop bar” at an intersection, would have hit a runner crossing the street. Tucker learned an important lesson from his close call: “We should never take driving for granted.” He also now realizes that all it takes is one little distraction and the right set of circumstances to cause a collision that could alter the rest of your life, and potentially someone else’s as well.

Tucker asks every driver to “strive for perfection each commute.” Good advice from a teenaged driver that we all can use.

The Traffic Safety Board thanks driver ed instructor Stephanie Wagner for making it possible for these three students to present their essays at the awards breakfast. It should be noted that all three students have ticket and accident-free driving records.

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