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RLA encourages safe driving

On average, 5,474 people are killed in U.S. roadways, and an estimated additional 488,000 are injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving.  Despite the growing statistics and information availability, many people still choose to ignore the seriousness of distracted driving.

The Residence Life Association hosted the Save A Life Tour’s Distracted Driving Program on Friday.   With massive tour posters on display, high intensity videos rolling on huge monitors, and texting while driving simulators, the Distracted Driving Program was jaw-dropping and eye-opening, RLA members said.

With all of today’s technology to assist in distracting drivers, the shortest trip around the block has turned into a risk for drivers, passengers and pedestrians, Cody Beethuis, Save A Life Tour speaker, said during an interview on Friday.

“We’re really passionate about safety.  It’s very important that drivers stay focused, and we want students to understand that.“ Shelby Huish, assistant director of High Rise said.

Last year, RLA sponsored an event in which an estimated 300 Chadron State students took Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge which says, “I pledge to make my car a no phone zone.  Beginning right, now I will do my part to help put an end to distracted driving by committing to drive as responsible as I can.”

“We wanted to do an extension of last year’s distracted driving event in order to draw attention to the serious dangers distracted driving poses,” Tami Fosher, Manager of Housing and Residence Life Programs, said

Save A Life Tour, based out of Grand Rapids, Mich., is a high-impact driving awareness program.  The texting while driving simulator is available, so that students can experience what it is like to try and multi-task while paying attention to the road.  The simulator has a touch-screen cell phone attachment that receives a text message every few seconds.  Students are required to respond to this text message while driving through extreme weather and traffic.  Many students were surprised at how quickly they wrecked their vehicles.

“I think the videos they were showing and the casket off to the side had a bigger impact than the simulators.” Darren Burrows, 21, junior of Columbus said.

“In the past three years I’ve lost about twelve friends [to drinking and driving and distracted driving accidents].  If the videos weren’t graphic, it [the message] wouldn’t get through to the students.”  Beethuis said. “I’d much rather them learn from my stories than go out there and learn from their own mistakes.”

Texting while driving is not only dangerous, but also illegal in the state of Nebraska.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, anyone under the age of 18 or anyone with an intermediate learner’s permit is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.  Violators of these laws can face fines of $200 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense, and $500 for subsequent offenses plus 3 points against the driver’s license.

For more information on distracted driving and the Safe A Life Tour, visit their website at www.safealifetour.net.

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