The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has just announced a novel way to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
Billed as “Your chance to drive distracted,” they’ve invited the media to join them tomorrow at a local race track where reporters can hop in a specially-outfitted car to get a deeper understanding of how distraction impacts driving. While this issue is certainly no laughing matter, I had to chuckle at the idea that anyone who drives regularly needs a special chance to drive distracted — as if they’ve never done it before!
The event will happen just north of the Kenton Neighborhood at Portland International Raceway.
Here’s ODOT’s pitch:
“We invite media to talk with safety officials, law enforcement, safety advocates and survivors from Oregon and Washington. The Oregon Driver Education Center will provide three driving courses reporters can test: a distracted driving course, an EZ drift car and an accelerator car, which gauges response time. Representatives from Oregon Impact, Trauma Nurses Talk Tough and U-TURN 180 will be available to comment. ODOT Director Matt Garrett, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Regional Administrator Greg Frederickson and Washington Traffic Safety Commission Media Relations Manager Shelly Baldwin will provide opening comments.”
ODOT will also have the mother of a young woman who was hit and killed in a crash caused by a distracted driver available for interviews. The woman’s totaled car will be on display.
ODOT statistics show that a distracted driver causes a crash ever 2.5 hours on average and that distraction plays a role in one of every 12 serious injury crashes in Oregon.
In related news, Zendrive released their 2018 Distracted Driving Snapshot study yesterday. The company’s analysis was based on data from tracking 100 billion miles of driving. The bad news is that the problem is “far worse” than they thought. How much worse? 100 times worse says their data. “There’s a lot more driver phone use in the U.S. than officials say,” reads a company blog post on the study. They estimate that 60 percent of people use their phones while driving and there are 69 million U.S. drivers who use their phones in their cars each day.
The good news? Oregon held the title of “Least Distracted State” for the second year running and Portland was ranked as the second least distracted city. That might offer some solace, but keep in mind that a 2016 City of Portland survey found that distracted driving was a top concern for road users.
Check out Zendrive’s study here:
[pdf-embedder url=”https://bikeportland.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Zendrive-Distracted-Driving-study-FINAL-April-2018.pdf” title=”Zendrive Distracted Driving study FINAL (April 2018)”]
… And put your damn phone down!
But wait, there’s more… We appreciate ODOT doing events like this. Perhaps they can keep it going and help reporters (and their own staff) understand what it’s like to ride a bike in traffic. Here’s one novel way a transit agency is going about that:
Every driver of any motorized vehicle should try this at least once pic.twitter.com/FU1zq37qqZ
— 21st Century City (@urbanthoughts11) April 9, 2018
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