It Takes Three to Tango: DOT, Consumer Reports and Beauty Queen Tackle Distracted Driving
According to a recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports, a significant number of young drivers age 30 and younger do not feel that texting and driving is a problem. To educate young drivers in the United States the Department of Transportation, Consumer News and Miss South Dakota 2010 are teaming up. Miss South Dakota, Loren Vaillancourt, will be featured in the DOT’s Faces of Distracted Driving effort and has made the fight against distracted driving a personal issue. She lost her brother in a car accident caused by distracted driving two years ago.
According to the Consumer News survey, a clear majority, 63 percent, of drivers age 30 or younger have used a cell phone while driving. The survey also found that one-third of the respondents admitted to texting and driving. Of those that admitted to texting and driving, 64 percent did not recognize texting and driving as a problem. Even though the majority of drivers age 30 and underfelt texting and driving was not dangerous, texting and driving increases the risk of getting into a car accident by 23 times. In addition, car accidents are the number one cause of death among teenagers, and teen drivers are three times as likely to get into a fatal car accident as other age groups.
Miss South Dakota lost her younger brother in a car accident in 2009. Her brother was a passenger in another driver’s vehicle. The driver completed a stop at a stop sign but then proceeded to pull out in front of an oncoming semi. Vaillancourt’s younger brother died the day after the accident from brain injuries. Vaillancourt believes the car accident was caused by distracted driving and says his accident was completely preventable.
Vaillancourt believes that many young drivers do not recognize texting and driving as a dangerous combination because young drivers feel invincible. Not only does the educational effort that Vaillancourt is a part of raise awareness about cell phone use and driving, it also raises awareness about general distractions on the road like listening to music and engaging in conversation.
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