By Beth David, Editor
Students at Fairhaven High School had an addition to the curriculum last week: Distractology. The “course” features a driving simluator that shows drivers how dangerous distracted driving is, including texting, fiddling with the radio, opening a water bottle and drinking from it, and other activities that take their eyes off the road.
According to Nick Romani-Prpich, who ran the simulator last Friday, the latest fad among teens is to take a selfie when driving. He said it is even worse than texting because they tend to take more than one photo, trying to get the perfect shot.
The simulator takes teens through a series of driving scenarios, with the unexpected, such as a pedestrian walking out from behind cars, and a car running a stop sign.
“It teaches them a lot,” said Mr. Romani-Prpich.
Cameryn Kruger took her turn at the wheel and promptly hit a pedestrian and a motorcyclist. She said the scenarios took her off guard. The second time around, she was able to anticipate the problems and did not hit anything, or anyone.
The simulator, she said, took a little getting used to, as well, especially the brake pedal.
According to Arbella Insurance Foundation, which sponsors the simulator, drivers who have completed Distractology are 19% less likely to have an accident and 25% less likely to receive traffic violations.
Ms. Kruger said she found the experience valuable, although she questioned how real it was. She said she never had anyone run a stop sign the way she saw in the simulator, but acknowledged that drivers probably do it all the time.
She admitted that she did text and drive, but “not often.”
“Not anymore,” she said, even though she did not realize she had gone right over the line until she saw the picture.
She said she would recommend it to others.
“It’s nice to see a situation you’ve never been in before,” she said, especially without the danger.
“It really opens up their eyes,” said Mr. Romani-Prpich. “They become better drivers.”
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