The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Distractology Trailer Visits Falmouth on Cape Cod to Teach More Teens About the Hazards of Distracted Driving

student participating in distracted driving simulation

According to the Falmouth Patch, the trailer featuring the Distractology® program, developed by the UMass Amherst College of Engineering and the Arbella Insurance Foundation, visited Falmouth High School on Cape Cod from November 12 to 15. The program shows students the dangers of driving while talking on the phone, texting, or any other common distraction. Recently, the Greenfield Recorder also reported that students at Pioneer Valley Regional High School learned about the perils of distracted driving when the Distractology trailer visited their campus during the week of September 2.

The innovative teaching software in the Distractology trailer was created by UMass engineers in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department’s Arbella Insurance Group Charitable Foundation Human Performance Laboratory. To date, according to the Falmouth article, more than 18,600 new drivers have completed the Distractology training.

After completing the course, students reported they were 25 percent less likely to check their phones while driving compared to before the training exercise. Compared to their attitude before the course, students were 30 percent less comfortable with the idea of multi-tasking while they drive.

Distractology was one of the first programs in the country to address distracted driving with young, inexperienced drivers. According to the Falmouth newspaper story, drivers who have completed Distractology are proven to be 15 percent less likely to have an accident or receive a traffic violation.

As the Falmouth article noted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine people are killed every hour and more than 1,000 are injured as a result of distracted drivers. Distracted driving has become a top concern among drivers in the United States according to recent research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The study shows that 96-97 percent of drivers view reading and typing a text/email as dangerous, while 32-41 percent of drivers admitted to engaging in these activities. The Journal of Adolescent Health has also found 38 percent of teenagers across the country text while driving. In Massachusetts, 40 percent of teenagers text while driving.

"Distracted driving problems continue to escalate, so it's critical to do everything we can to educate new drivers to the dangers associated with distracted driving," as the Patch was told by John Donohue, chairman, president, and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group and chairman of the Arbella Insurance Foundation. "Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Distractology aims to curb potentially hazardous behaviors before they become habits. It's our hope that by working together with new drivers, educators, and parents, we can create a new generation of safe drivers who believe distracted driving is unacceptable."

The Patch says that “Distractology features a mobile classroom outfitted with two high-tech driving simulators designed to give new drivers the chance to experience the perils of distracted driving. Simulations are based on real-world examples, including texting, posting to social media sites like Facebook and Snapchat, and changing the radio, all while navigating residential and highway conditions.” (November 2019)