Distracted driving is a bad habit and indications across California reveal many drivers have room to improve. According to Allstate Insurance, nearly 3,500 American teens die annually in accidents caused by distracted driving. More than 300,000 teens are injured. On March 20, a group of Sacramento County teens gathered at Elk Grove High School to announce a campaign aimed at eliminating this deadly problem.
"We are excited about getting out there and helping make our roads safer," said Katrina Ranchhod, a student from Elk Grove High School. She spoke at a news conference also featuring students from Rio Cazadero High School and El Camino High School.
With the help of a grant from the Allstate Foundation through the California Friday Night Live Partnership (CFNLP), students compiled startling distracted driving statistics. After five months of monitoring 62 intersections near high schools across California, students observed more than 6,700 cases of distracted driving in merely one hour's time, an average of more than 100 instances of distracted driving per intersection.
In only one hour, students in Sacramento observed more than 620 incidents of distracted driving during their "Roadwatch" of five intersections.
"Don't be part of the problem. Turn your cell phone off. If you are in a car with someone who is driving and they pull out a phone, take it away from them," said Misty Dailey of the Elk Grove Police Department.
Motivated by what they observed, Sacramento County FNL members are mobilizing to implement campaigns in their schools and communities aimed at eliminating distracted driving among their peers and in their community. Some of the campaign activities include: campus campaigns, poster competitions, video announcements/commercials, distracted driving pledges for students and parents, lunch time activities promoting the safe driving message, and community campaigns.
"It is up to all of us—parents, teachers and administrators—to do everything possible to make sure our children are safe. However, I truly believe students have great impact in reaching out to their friends and other students, and leading by example," said David W. Gordon, Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools.
"Ultimately, the young people are the sources of the changes we want to make. I commend you for what you are doing," said Lynne Goodwin with the California Friday Night Live Partnership.
The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) received a grant from the Allstate Foundation through the California Friday Night Live Partnership to support the work of Friday Night Live Chapters in five Sacramento-area high schools.