By: Max Bruns ~Staff Writer~
According to the U.S. government’s official website for publishing statistical analyses about distracted drivers, 3,179 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2014 and 431,000 people were injured.
The largest contributing factor, related to at least 38 percent of these instances, was texting.
For this reason, on April 7 and 8, Xavier Police, in conjunction with the Hamilton County Safety Committee, American Automobile Association (AAA), the Cincinnati Fire Department and Xavier University theatre will host an event to address the problem of texting while driving. Kelly Leon, Xavier’s News Correspondence, titled the event, “Xavier Students Experience First Hand the Consequences of Distracted Driving.”
The point of the event is to give students a first-hand experience of what happens when texting while driving results in an accident.
Sgt. Shaun Bryce, crime prevention and safety officer for Xavier Police, is helping to coordinate the event.
“I wanted to do something on a bigger scale to actually get the message across,” Bryce said. “So many people text and drive it’s hard to control unless it actually results in an accident. I got the idea from students last year who were doing a don’t text and drive initiative.”
This year, the event will feature the “AAA distracted driver simulator” 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on April 7 in Fenwick Place.
The simulator provides an experience of what it’s like to drive under the influence or with other significant distractions.
The participant in the simulator will either experience a level of impairment via the simulator itself or will be handed a cellphone and be asked to take part in a texting conversation.
The simulator will always result in a full on crash simulation including simulated interactions with the police, medical staff and a judg e.
The finale of the event will take place 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on April 8 at the intersection of St. Xavier Way and Musketeer Drive. Theater students will be participating in an actual simulated crash with cars donated from Pull-and-Pay. Stage makeup, the presence of the Cincinnati Fire Department and the crashed vehicles will heighten the reality of the experience.
“We want students to take this seriously,” Bryce said.