AP NEWS

Simulator will show distracted driving dangers

August 21, 2016

SALEM -Area residents can experience the dangers of distracted driving without the danger by using a simulator being made available by AT&T from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday in the main lobby of Salem Regional Medical Center.

SRMC partnered with U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, local law enforcement and the AT&T “It Can Wait” program to offer the free opportunity and bring the information about the dangers of texting while driving to the community.

The “It Can Wait” program promotes the idea of no texting while driving. Distracted driving has become more of an issue in recent years due to the explosion of smartphone usage.

According to a joint press release issued by SRMC and AT&T, “AT&T research shows that seven in 10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving. These people are doing much more than just texting from behind the wheel of a vehicle. They are checking email, posting to social media, playing games, snapping selfies and other activities.”

The press release also noted that according to <a href=‘http://www.distraction.gov’>www.distraction.gov, which is the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, “five seconds is the average amount of time a person’s eyes are off the road while texting. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, this is enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. When you consider the number of pedestrians and vehicles a distracted driver could encounter in that distance, it becomes clear how dangerous distracted driving is to the driver and others sharing the road.”

The event will begin with a brief introduction about the program, then members of the community will be invited to try out the simulator to see what can happen when they try to text and drive at the same time.

Ohio passed a law in 2013 making texting while driving illegal, but as a secondary offense for adults, meaning the driver has to be stopped for another offense. There’s legislation pending in the Ohio House known as HB 88 which would make texting while driving a primary offense. The proposal was introduced in 2015 and has been in committee ever since.

Also pending is Ohio Senate Bill 146 which focuses on distracted driving and creates enhanced penalties for moving violations when they’re caused by distracted driving. The legislation passed in the Senate last year and was referred and introduced in the House last year and remains in committee.

To learn more about the simulator event, contact SRMC Public Relations at 330-332-7227.