Pompeo & Sons Insurance Agency sponsored the state-of-the-art Distractology 101 tour to Medford High School during the week of September 23-27. Distractology 101 is an interactive program developed by the Arbella Insurance Foundation to teach new drivers the dangers of distracted driving. The campaign features a 36-foot-long, neon-yellow mobile classroom outfitted with high-tech driving simulators designed to give new drivers the chance to experience the perils of distracted driving, including texting while driving.
More than 3,000 people are killed each year in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 are injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field at 55 mph, blind.
“Distracted driving is a widespread epidemic among young drivers that continues to worsen, particularly as mobile devices become more prevalent, more advanced and more addictive,” said John Donohue, chairman, president and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group, and chairman and president of the Arbella Insurance Foundation. “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 800,000 drivers are using a hand-held cell phone at any given moment but only 57% recognize it as a serious threat to their safety. This lack of awareness and understanding is quite startling. It is our hope that Distractology 101 will continue to tackle this naivety head on and force drivers to once and for all break their mobile phone addiction while on the road.”
To date nearly 4,000 new drivers, meaning those that have been licensed less than three years or have a learner’s permit have completed the Distractology 101 training. In 2012, 97% percent of students surveyed said the experience was effective or extremely effective and 82% said they would recommend the experience to a friend.
“In just three years Arbella’s Distractology 101 campaign has made enormous strides in terms of combating distracted driving,” said Stephen Pompeo of Pompeo & Sons Insurance Agency. “The program’s mission is quite simple: to educate young drivers of the dangers of distracted driving and ultimately save the lives of teens living in communities such as Medford. Research has indicated that this type of real life stimulation and education can truly help to change dangerous behavior and we at the Pompeo & Sons Insurance Agency are proud to support this important mission.”
The Distractology driving simulator, based on Arbella-funded research conducted with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMASS), will travel to various communities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island during 2013, offering 45 minutes of simulated distracted driving to each participant.
During the driving simulator training — Distractology 101: A Crash Course on Distracted Driving — teens and other new drivers face a number of scenarios based on real-world examples, educating participants on how to anticipate hidden hazards, react to the road and avoid accidents. Participants also complete the online portion of the curriculum at www.DistractU.com and make a safe-driving pledge in order to complete the training.
Pictured: Mayor Michael McGlynn, School Superintendent Roy Belson, Ann Barry (Pompeo Insurance), Ann Marie Cugno (Medford School Committee member who helped bring Distractology to MHS), Stephen Pompeo, John Pompeo, Mary Ann Tarani (Pompeo Insurance), Dr. John Perella, John McAdam (MHS Drivers’ Ed. and organizer), Mr. Perry (MVTHS), School Committee member John Falco, and City Councilor Breanna Lungo-Koehn. Missing is Lisa Bowler, who coordinated the student signups, and Reg Graham, Arbella’s local representative.
The Distractology 101 trailer in the MHS parking lot last week.
A student tries the distracted driving simulator.
- Information from Arbella Insurance Group and Pompeo & Sons Insurance Agency. Photos by Allison Goldsberry and Pompeo & Sons Insurance Agency.