On Sept. 25, the University Programming Board (UPB) hosted “Distracted Driving Awareness” in front of the University Center (UC) to raise awareness of multiple forms of distracted driving that can cause problems on the roads.
UPB partnered with Francis Marion University (FMU) campus police, South Carolina highway patrol and PEER Awareness to highlight the dangers of drowsy driving, texting while driving and drunk driving.
To stimulate drunk driving, FMU campus police had students put on several different pairs of goggles that replicated different levels of intoxication. Students were then asked to walk a line and attempt to pass a field sobriety test.
In addition, highway patrol passed out brochures about distracted driving. UPB had posters displayed of wrecks that occurred in South Carolina from distracted driving, including several involving FMU students.
PEER Awareness is group based out of Michigan that travels the country educating youth about the dangers of texting and driving. They brought a life-sized distracted driving simulator for students to experience the full effect of driving while distracted.
They took a rental car and attached simulation technology to the steering wheel, brake and gas pedals, while students put on a headset that simulated certain driving scenarios. Once the simulation began, students used the cars steering, brakes and gas to maintain correct speed, avoid obstacles, stay on the road and complete the driving course. They had to complete these tasks while sending text messages of their choice on their phones.
After the course, the screen would depict how many legal infractions occurred during the distracted driving. Some students had up to 25 infractions, which are instances when they would have been pulled over by an officer.
Participating students were then asked to sign a pledge vowing against texting and driving.
Latarsha Green, executive chair of UPB and a sophomore Biology major, helped coordinate the annual event along with LaTasha Brand, assistant dean of students.
“Most accidents from distracted driving are caused by people in our age range,” Green said. “Most FMU students are commuters and we have many pedestrians on campus. We just wanted to educate the students about how to take responsibility and avoid accidents caused by distracted driving.”
Distracted driving is more than just drinking and driving, or texting and driving; it comes in many different forms. Texting, drinking, eating, being drowsy, reading, loud music and multiple passengers are all things that may distract a driver and lead to an accident.
“Plan in advance if you know you are going to be in a situation that may cause you to drink and drive,” Green said. “You have to take responsibility for your actions. Would you prefer to appear uncool by calling someone for a ride or would you rather put yourself in a dangerous situation that could kill you and others? Is your ego more important than your safety?”
Distracted driving is something that everyone should be conscious of. For more information on distracted driving and how to avoid it, contact FMU campus police.