Students shown dangers of distracted driving

We’ve all been there: Running late to work, stuck in Bay Bridge traffic, needing to text your boss to tell her you’ll miss that morning meeting.

The decision you have to make? Do you pull out your phone, risk distraction and possibly a car accident, just so you can text your boss? Or do you wait until you get to work — if you still have a job.

This week, seven students recreated similar scenarios at Sonoma Raceway to shed light on the dangers of distracted driving.

The college and high school students drove in cars with instructors and had to perform normal driving procedures like making lane changes. The instructors then had them do distracting things like texting on their phone, changing radio stations, and adjusting the air conditioner.

Though the students’ distractions caused them only to run over a few cones, in real life, the consequences can be life-altering.

Once testing was complete, instructors graded each student on their ability to complete the tests and how distracted they appeared while completing the various tasks.

Student Jared Cambridge participated in the test and told The Vacaville Reporter:

“I’m not someone who texts and drives anyway, but I understand how difficult it could be. You have to choose when it’s appropriate to be distracted. Think about the time and place.”

According to the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16 percent of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under 20. Additionally, text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

The next time you think about whipping out your cell phone while driving think of this statistic: Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. If you are traveling at 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field — completely blind.