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Distractology 101 Draws More Media Attention

The “Distractology 101” driving simulation test created by the Human Performance  Laboratory was praised by an editorial in the Fall River Herald-News, while the lab’s Director, Don Fisher, was interviewed about distracted driving for the second time this summer by WWLP-TV Channel 22 News. “Thumbs up to the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Arbella Insurance Group’s charitable foundation,” said the Herald-News editorial, “which spent more than $500,000 and two years developing a simulated program that mimics real-life driving.”

As the Channel 22 clip noted, Dr. Fisher suggests that the only way to stop teens from texting while driving is to put them in the driver’s seat of a simulator and let them crash virtually. “He doesn't want to put them in cars on the road,” the clip said. “Instead, he has developed a driving simulator that will show them that they simply can't drive and text at the same time. He's found that 100 percent of teens who take the test crash.”

The Fall River editorial also had this to say about the simulation program the lab developed for Arbella: “Aimed at younger drivers, the simulation teaches the dangers of distracted driving, which is beginning to rival drunk driving as the scourge of the road. In 2008, nearly 6,000 people in America died in crashes involving distractions, and more than a half-million were injured.

“Distractology 101 (a crash course on distracted driving) made its Fall River debut last week at an Arbella branch on Durfee Street. Teenagers sat behind the wheel of the video-game-like device with a wide screen of the road and simulated mirrors of the traffic scene. The program presents six dangerous scenarios, including getting cut off, or a parked car pulling into traffic. Two scenarios ask drivers to respond at specific times while texting on their cell phones." (August 2010)