Arrive Alive Tour’s 2020 Vision: Reduce Teen Distracted Driving Crashes.
We all know what distracted driving looks like: A 17 year old with a car full of friends, music blasting, dancing and singing their favorite tune, posting a selfie on Instagram, eating a burger, all while navigating their way to the beach.
Or, it may be the mom car pooling the kids to school, yelling at Johnny to stop hitting Sally, listening to a Top 40 radio station, drinking an iced coffee, thinking about her grocery list, and touching up her eye-liner while texting her mother to pick up the kids at 3PM.
Distracted driving has many faces, but the definition is pretty clear: any activity that diverts your attention from the task of safe driving. According to NHTSA , five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that is enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.
Distracted Driving – The Problem
Distracted driving amongst all drivers, especially youth drivers (16-20 years old), is reaching epic proportions in 2020. According to the IIHS, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is nearly 3 times the rate for drivers ages 20+. Top Driver reported that our youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk, with 16% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under 20. The topic of distracted driving is not a new or shocking revelation. However, the impact and consequences of driver’s choosing to drive distracted continues to devastate communities nationwide. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there were over 400,00 people injured in distracted driving accidents in 2018 including 2,841 deaths. How do we begin to educate young drivers to instill better decision-making long term?
Today’s society and social interactions are always at the tip of the user’s finger. Text messages, phone calls, social media, selfies, video chats, music, and streaming are in the palm of your hand. These means of social interaction have begun to instill the need for immediate responses with a strong urge to not be ‘left out’. The Zebra conducted a survey of 2,000 Americans in January 2020 regarding their behavior concerning distracted driving.
• 37.1% of respondents completely agree that distractions on your mobile device impair your ability to drive safely, yet 28.6% of all respondents admitted to texting and driving as their number one distracted driving behavior, over video-chatting, engaging with work emails, and taking photos or videos.
• 56.7% of all respondents reported that they eat or drink while driving.
• 8.9% of respondents aged 25 to 34 said they felt a high degree of pressure to respond to a text message as soon as it came in, and 7.3% of that same age group also felt a high degree of pressure to respond to work-related messages/emails while driving.
• Of those respondents who completely agree that texting and driving is equally as dangerous as drinking and driving, 39.9% said they have engaged with drinking alcohol while driving.
In a follow up survey conducted by Zebra in 2019 the results were as follows:
• 58.6% of respondents using Apple iOS said they felt a very high degree of pressure to respond to a text message, while only 17.7% of Google Android users felt the same.
• 70.4% of Apple iOS using-respondents admitted to video-chatting while driving, while only 23.7% made the same choice.
• 53.7% of Android users in this survey completely agree texting and driving is equally dangerous as drinking and driving, while only 51.5% of iPhone users feel the same way.
This survey data is interesting, as it reflects the urgency users feel to respond to notifications on their phones while driving. Does the ease of the Apple iOS interface make it easier for youth to drive distracted? This survey seems to point to an overwhelming majority of Apple users who engage in dangerous driving behaviors.
Now that we can clearly see the problem at hand regarding youth distracted driving what is the solution?
Distracted Driving Phone Apps
There are some excellent phone applications available, for free, that provide the tools to prevent phone use while driving. Arrive Alive has created a safe-driving application for Android users that can be easily installed here. The Arrive Alive application automatically detects when you’re driving and silences your phone for you – letting you concentrate on the road. Phone applications such as Arrive Alive’s are imperative for anyone looking to fight the temptation of driving distracted. The Arrive Alive application automatically engages once the speed of your vehicle reaches 10 mph. It blocks distractions on your phone–like text messaging, phone calls, games, and other apps. I would highly encourage parents to ensure their children have a safe driving app installed, and it is being utilized every time their children drive. If you are not an Android user, Farm Bureau Insurance did a great job of reviewing some additional safe-driving apps for Applie iOS here.
Distracted Driving – The Solution
Distracted driving has been the focus of many Highway Safety Offices across the country. States are making a concerted effort to curb distracted driving crashes and fatalities. How exactly are they addressing the issue, and what is The Arrive Alive Tour contributing to these efforts?
An article from Accredited Schools Online did a fantastic job of organizing a plan of action for Teachers/Educators, Parents, and Students. How can we all do our part to help reduce crashes / fatalities, educate the youth, and improve driving habits for the long run?
• Offer Driver Education
• Host Safe Driving Campaigns / Contests/ Assemblies
• Classroom Discussions
• Online Resources
• Push against the normalization of distracted driving
• Available to talk with students
• Familiarize themselves with common distractions
• Brush-up safe driving practices
• Set rules / agreements with children
• Set an example
• Communicate with other parents
• Install a distracted driving app on child’s phone
o Leave early / leave enough time for the trip
o Set up music before you begin driving
o Avoid eating
• Make an agreement with friends to not engage in distracted driving
• Pull over to communicate if necessary
• Use a safe driving app that blocks notifications while driving
Arrive Alive Tour
The Arrive Alive Tour has implemented many of these practices into our events throughout communities nationwide. The Arrive Alive Tour faces the distracted driving issue head on by allowing participants to experience firsthand the dangers of distracted driving in a safe environment. Arrive Alive provides students with an educational experience that lasts – as shown by our 2019 survey data boasting a 94% change rate in driving behavior. These events also drum up community conversations with teachers, parents, and students that push against the normalization of driving distracted. Students are encouraged to take a pledge to drive S.A.F.E. (Sober And Free of Electronics) alongside their friends, prompting students to hold each other accountable. This all-out educational approach has been extraordinarily successful in the communities in which we work.
Partnering with Highway Safety Offices in states such as Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, and Montana we have seen some staggering results. Specifically analyzing data from Tennessee Highway Safety Office from 2019-2020, we have seen a 5.85% reduction in distracted driving crashes in the counties in which we held Arrive Alive events at local high schools.
According to Automotive Fleet, from 2015-2017 Tennessee topped the list for highest fatality rate in regard to distracted driving at 7.2 distracted driving deaths per 10 billion vehicle miles — nearly five-times the national average of 1.49 fatalities. Arrive Alive partnered with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office in 2018 as a grantee focused on reducing distracted driving. Up to that point, Tennessee had seen an increase in distracted driving crashes every year until 2018. This was the first year where they saw a reduction in distracted driving crashes. That trend has continued for 2019 and is on pace to do the same in 2020.
The dramatic decrease in accidents and fatalities in states such as Tennessee provides Arrive Alive a glimmer of hope in the efforts to curb distracted driving incidents. Arrive Alive is grateful for the opportunity to work with states such as Tennessee, and to see the fruits of our labor as distracted driving crashes continue to decrease.
The issue of distracted driving is an all-hands-on-deck issue that takes a concerted effort by everyone involved if we wish to continue these downward trends in crashes and fatalities. Communities, teachers, parents, and students must band together to address the glaring issue of distracted driving to be effective and see results. The Governor’s Highway Safety Administration is providing millions of dollars to states for the purpose of fighting distracted driving and bringing organizations such as The Arrive Alive Tour to local communities to educate teen drivers on the dangers of distracted driving. The results are promising and here at Arrive Alive we look forward to speaking with you about how we can impact your community and make the roads a safer place.
Are you are still considering attempting to drive the length of a football field blindfolded? Try it in our state-of-the-art simulator instead!