Fighting distracted driving: Red Means Stop offering scholarships to driving school

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by Catherine Holland

GMAZ segments by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on April 8, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 8 at 12:20 PM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Driving is hard enough for newly licensed teens, but when you throw in the distractions that surround them every day, there's the potential for disaster.

As part of a national campaign to kick off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released 30-second video designed to illustrate the very real dangers of texting while driving. The message is simple: "U Drive. U Text. U Pay."
Watch the video

Distracted driving is a growing problem, and it's not just texting or talking on the phone. Talking to passengers. Eating. Messing with the radio or GPS. Talking to passengers. All of these are distractions -- potentially deadly ones.

"Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving," reads Distraction.gov. "All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety."

One of the newest distractions is taking selfies while driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of nine people are killed and more than 1,060 are hurt in crashes involving distracted drivers every day in the U.S. Every day.

"Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America's roadways," according to Distraction.gov. "In 2012 alone, 3,328 were killed in distracted driving crashes"

The CDC breaks distractions down into three categories.

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving

While any one is bad, texting combines all three. So does taking selfies.

3TV's Ryan O'Donnell got behind the wheel of a simulator at Driving MBA in Scottsdale to see how he did with the most common distractions. It was what you might expect. He was only moments into the program when he "crashed" while texting.

Driving MBA provides a unique combination of simulation labs, classroom and on-road instruction in order to properly prepare a student for the responsibility of driving.

"We can put them in all kinds of situations," Driving MBA owner Maria Wojticzak said, explaining how fast a wreck can happen. "It's to help them understand that it happens so quickly."

The Driving MBA classes are not cheap, but parents who have put their kids through them say they're worth every penny.

"There's no way you can do this kind of stuff on the real road," Wojticzak said. "The question you need to ask yourself is, 'What is your child's life worth?' Because this can save their life."

Red Means Stop, an organization comprised of people who have lost loved ones to red-light runners, is offering scholarships to Driving MBA so more kids can get this potentially life-saving training.

"These scholarships are specifically earmarked for, and will be awarded to families who demonstrate an economic hardship and cannot afford driver training for their student," according to the RedMeansStop.org scholarship Web page. 

Red Means Stop is accepting applications through the end of the month. For more information or to request an application, go to RedMeansStop.org/scholarship.

Manifesto - Texting while driving video

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