NORWICH – Every summer the Norwich City School District refines a group of new drivers in its driver’s education program.
On Tuesday, August 1, Norwich High School driver’s education students were tutored by New York State Trooper Peter Grunder in a presentation striving to teach NHS students the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and not wearing a seatbelt.
According to Grunder, a major factor in accidents in today’s busy world is distracted driving. Between talking on the phone, texting, and other distractions, Grunder says even a seasoned driver will fail to see 50 percent of the “information” in their driving environment.
“You can do two things at the same time–but not well,” said Trooper Grunder. “You have to go back and forth from one thing to the next, so therefore your reaction-time is going to be longer. It’s dividing your attention.”
The statistic was illustrated in an exercise where Grunder showed students two photos: one a normal point of view from a driver’s seat, and one a ‘distracted point of view’ from the driver’s seat. Many students didn’t realize that the distracted point of view omitted several important details from the driver’s view––one being the rearview mirror.
“Isn’t that a little scary?” asked Trooper Grunder––students agreed. “This is called looking but not seeing. Someone who is distracted fails to see up to 50 percent of objects in their vision.”
According to Grunder, distracted driving gets even more dangerous when you couple it with speeding.
“Speed is a factor in nearly one-third of fatal crashes,” said Trooper Grunder. He then showed students a chart that displayed a statistic: Your chance in dying in a car accident goes up nearly 12-times as you speed up from 55 miles-per-hour to 85 miles-per-hour. “The faster you’re going, the longer it will take you to stop, and the chances of you surviving the accident are going way down.”
Grunder went on to say that an unfortunate fact of today’s youth is that they are not wearing their seat-belts as often as they should. He explained how since the seat-belt law first came out in 1985, more and more restrictions have been added to the law.
At first the law only pertained to front seat passengers, and then it also pertained to all passengers under 16. Grunder says there’s a reason behind the push to wear seat-belts.
“Why wouldn’t you wear your seat-belts?” asked Trooper Grunder after showing students footage of a man being ejected from his SUV into oncoming traffic on a thruway. “It does not take a lot to be ejected. You would think you can restrain yourself––but you can’t. That’s what seat-belts are for.”
Students from Norwich’s driver’s education program have been participating in the program all summer, both getting firsthand experience driving in small groups, and also learning driving theory in the classroom.
For their next special presentation, Chenango County District Attorney Joseph A. McBride will teach students what might happen if driving gets them in trouble with the law.