PBSC students get lesson on dangers of distracted driving
Luz Mohalley stepped out of the driver side of the navy blue Jeep Feb. 26 holding the mock citation she received for swerving, driving below the posted speed limit, driving on the incorrect side of the road and causing a collision.
“I should be in jail,’’ she said. “I pressed my brake, but I still hit him [the other driver]. I saw him coming.”
While the Jeep was real, luckily for Mohalley, a Palm Beach State College student, her blood alcohol level of .11 and the erratic driving and crash it caused were not. They were simulated and designed to educate students about the dangers of drunken driving and texting while driving.
Mohalley, a LPN who is pursuing admission into the College’s registered nurse program, was among more than 100 PBSC students who pledged to drive safely after participating in Arrive Alive, a nationally-touring program held in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza on the Lake Worth campus. The program uses a high-tech simulator, impact video and other resources. The simulator allows students to experience, in a controlled environment, the potential consequences of drunken and distracted driving. When students got into the Jeep, they were able to choose either a texting or drunken driven simulation experience.
With PBSC’s spring break coming up March 3-9, Shira Bland, student activities coordinator, said it is a good time to remind students to be safe on the roads. The Arrive Alive program also was part of a half-way pep rally to encourage students who are now midway through the semester.
“We do it every year because spring break is [the time when] the highest number of college-age student drinking deaths [occur]. Last year texting and driving was not an issue,’’ Bland said. “Now, in the state of Florida it is illegal. Your first offense is a $35 citation. We do it to make sure they are aware of the changes. We want them to know exactly how it feels before they make the mistake and do it on the road.”
Patrick Sheehy, a team leader for the UNITE Arrive Alive Tour, said the program travels to a different city every day of the week. He said when the program began nine years ago, it focused on drinking and driving, but with the rapid growth in cell phone use, one of the most commonly recognized driving distractions, the program was expanded to also focus on texting and driving. About 89 percent of all Americans have a cell phone, according to CTIA – The Wireless Association. Drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize you’re more likely to be in an accident when you’re texting rather than drinking and driving,’’ Sheehy said. “They’re both dangerous.”