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Distractology 101 Garners Yet More Media Coverage

A feature story in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle looked at the Distractology 101 program, funded by Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation. Distractology uses driving simulators loaded with a learning program designed by Donald Fisher, head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, and colleagues in the Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory. Fisher says the program emphasizes the danger of texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving. Arbella’s touring Distractology 101 trailer has attracted wide-ranging coverage throughout the Northeast, most recently in the Boston Globe, Salem News, and WSHM-TV 3. The Sun Chronicle article is posted below.

The Arbella Charitable Foundation will be putting young drivers through their paces this month.

The foundation is bringing a 36-foot-long neon yellow trailer stowing a driving simulator to the Attleboro YMCA Aug. 16-20 as part of its "Distractology 101" tour.

Despite a ban on texting-while-driving in Massachusetts since last September 30, the problem persists, especially among drivers younger than 20.

Researchers say 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted.

That's why the New England-based Arbella Insurance charity group created Distractology 101, a program that teaches drivers with less than three years' experience what to watch for.

The program was developed along with the University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Donald Fisher to instruct young drivers in a two-part approach:

The first, a 45-minute session in the driving simulator with an instructor running through six distracted driving scenarios.

The second, an online class which anyone can take through the website DistractU.com.

"Many new drivers aren't getting the message about the dangers of distracted driving and that's a real problem," Arbella CEO John Donohue said.

"Our goal with Distractology 101 is to create a new generation of safe drivers who don't think multitasking at the wheel is acceptable."

In 2009, 5,500 deaths were attributed to distracted driving - 990 because of cell phone use.

Local insurance companies have been hosting the tour as it travels through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire.

Richard-Cuddy Insurance Agency of Attleboro will host the local event.

"As a parent as well as an insurance agent, I see how serious an epidemic it is," agency President Mark Cuddy said.