Students to Learn Dangers of Texting While Driving Firsthand
Texting while driving is among the riskiest of common driving distractions among drivers both new and experienced. Drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash while engaging in this dangerous practice while behind the wheel. To demonstrate the dangers of texting while driving to local students, AAA is teaming up with Heartland Park Topeka and the Topeka Police Department for a Texting While Driving Exercise.
Two students each from most of the high schools will drive with a Topeka police officer while sending and receiving text messages. Students will learn firsthand how virtually impossible it is to maintain safe driving habits while being distracted by mobile communications like text messages and emails.
After each student completes their route on the road course, Topeka Police officers will constructively critique how the teens did while engaging in distracting behavior. Paul Atchley, Ph.D. will then share his research on cognitive distractions with the group and explain what the brain can and cannot process in scenarios such as driving and texting. Doctor Atchley is Associate Professor, Associate Chair and Undergraduate Studies Director, Program in Cognitive Psychology Department of Psychology at the University of Kansas.
High school students participating in this exercise who have volunteered to drive the course will share their experience with their peers by handing out information outlining what they learned on the course to discourage fellow students from dangerous distracted driving habits. Area high schools participating in this event include Topeka High, Topeka West, Highland Park, Washburn Rural, Shawnee Heights and Hayden High Schools.
The Texting While Driving Exercise will take place Wednesday, April 27, 2011 from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at the Heartland Park Topeka Racetrack, host for the event. AAA will provide the car in which students will drive the course as well as sponsor refreshments for the students. Heartland Park Topeka will provide the course and the Topeka Police Department has made arrangements with schools and students, and will also set up the obstacle course and conduct the exercise.
To get to the driving site, members of the media can take SW Topeka Blvd. to Gary Ormsby Drive (77th Street). Turn left (east) and drive to Gate E where signs and staff will direct visitors to the track.
AAA provides travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services to 52 million members nationwide. Since its founding in 1902, AAA has been a leading advocate for motorists and consumers. For more information about AAA, members and non-members can visit AAA offices in Topeka, Wichita, Manhattan or Lawrence, go online to AAA.com or call 800-365-5222.