Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Sponsors Distracted Driving Seminar at Lake Forest High School
Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital April 07, 2014
LAKE FOREST, IL – Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital joined Lake Forest High School officials today in sponsoring a seminar for students to educate them about the dangers of distracted driving. The “Save a Life Tour” presents eight hours of multimedia information about distracted driving, including simulators to show students how focus is lost and reaction time changes when distracted by calling or texting while driving. Students also heard first-hand accounts of people involved in distracted driving accidents.
“Distracted driving has become a top public health concern because of the growing number of vehicle accidents that result from unfocused drivers,” said Stephen Ganshirt, MD, a surgeon and chair of the trauma committee at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, who spoke to the students to start the seminar. “As trauma physicians, we see the result of distracted driving: car accident victims who come to our trauma unit, and so it is important for us to help educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving.
“Research also tells us that teenagers become distracted more quickly and more easily than adults and so this is a group that really needs to hear this message and be encouraged to change their behaviors,” continued Ganshirt.
On average, each year approximately 5,500 people are killed on American roadways, and an estimated additional 448,000 are injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. And while all distractions can endanger a driver's safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distractions: visual - taking your eyes off the road; manual - taking your hands off the wheel; and cognitive - taking your mind off what you're doing.
According to a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, dialing while driving increases the risk of a crash or near-crash more than any other sort of distraction. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. Surveys have shown that twenty-five percent of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. Additionally, twenty percent of teens admit that they have extended multi-message text conversations while driving.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, more than 2,500 teens died in car crashes -- seven deaths every day -- and teen drivers are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in fatal crashes. This age group also has the largest proportion of drivers who were reported to have been distracted; 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.