Distractology aims to quell distracted driving

Nov 3, 2017

Owen Powers approaches an intersection with his left turn signal on. He slows down, almost to a complete stop. He looks and turns. A car comes speeding through the intersection. They collide.

“I couldn’t see around the truck,” Powers says to Nick Prpich.

Prpich has spent the past week camped out in front of Old Rochester Regional High School with the Distractology trailer – a mobile simulator to teach students about distracted driving.

Students signed up to spend 40 minutes during their school day to try out the simulator, which has young drivers try to text and drive, change their music while on the highway or try any other number of distracted behaviors while behind the wheel.

“It’s something really good for the community,” Donovan Dunn, from Roger Keith & Sons Insurance said. “It’s teaching kids the dangers of distracted driving.”

Arbella Insurance owns the simulator, and brought it to ORR after seeing a rise in distracted driving incidences.

“There’s been an uptick of rear-end collisions,” Dunn said. “It’s indicative of looking down and not being aware. It’s an epidemic and we need to teach young drivers the dangers.”

The simulation lets the driver have a practice round to get used to the vehicle and get comfortable with the machine. Then, the different simulations start.

Whether it was hitting a pedestrian in the crosswalk or rear-ending a car at a stop sign, each simulation inevitably ended the same – with shattered windows and a loud crashing sound.

Following each accident, the simulator would play a video explaining what happened and how to approach the situation in a safer way.

At the end, the drivers did one final situation with a combination of some of the situations they had already seen.

“Honestly, it was harder than I expected,” Powers said.

“It was really realistic,” Robbie Pedro added.

However, despite the difficulties, the students agreed they learned something from it.

“I’ll definitely be checking crosswalks more carefully,” Powers said.

For a video, see below.