Delaware News

Distractions are dangerous to passengers, too

Hayes High School program teaches young drivers to focus on road, their passengers not to divert them

By

Hayes High School is giving teen drivers -- and their passengers -- a reminder of how deadly distracted driving can be.

The Delaware City School District has partnered with the Delaware General Health District to bring Impact Teen Drivers to the high school.

The program provides training to school district personnel, who then instruct students about the consequences of distracted driving.

Rod Glazer, the district's safety coordinator, presented the program to Hayes juniors and seniors in August and will do the same for sophomores in the spring, when many of them begin to drive.

The program has two main goals: to remind drivers to pay attention while they are driving; and to instruct passengers not to distract drivers.

Glazer said common distractions include texting, rowdy passengers, eating and drinking, music and looking in the mirror to check hair or makeup.

"I put a lot of focus on the passenger as well," he said. "Passengers need to understand that they have a duty to sit there and get a ride, not to distract the person driving."

Videos based on real stories have been created to show students specific examples of fatalities due to these distractions.

One video showed a girl who was being teased by the passengers, who pressured her to drive faster. She did so and lost control of the vehicle, crashing and killing the passengers.

Glazer said he reiterated the fact that passengers are responsible for not teasing or pressuring a driver.

"Statistics show that in two-thirds of teen vehicle fatalities, the passengers are the ones who lose their lives," he said. "Passengers need to take responsibility for their actions as well."

Another video showed a girl who was involved in a near-fatal crash while checking her phone. After that, she continued to text and drive and eventually died in another accident.

"We talked about when something bad turns out good, and then you begin to take more and more risks. She lost her life because she thought she would be OK," Glazer said.

As part of the program, Glazer also emphasizes laws specific to 16- and 17-year-old drivers.

For example, a 16-year-old driver is allowed to carry only one non-family member passenger at a time, and a 17-year-old driver is allowed to have only as many passengers as the vehicle has factory-installed seat belts.

"Some of these laws came as a surprise to the students," Glazer said. "They had been driving lots of their friends home from school, and some of them had been transporting students in their parents' van, which didn't have factory-installed seatbelts."

Glazer said he believes these laws are taught during required driver's-education courses, but that students perhaps had forgotten or were not paying attention during class.

Comments