Drive Safely to Wayne State campaign to be held Sept. 19September 10, 2012
DETROIT (Sept. 10, 2012) – In 2010, 3092 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated additional 416,000 were injured, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
Distracted driving – any activity that could divert a person's attention from the primary task of driving – is a growing issue. And our society’s ever-increasing dependence on cell phones and text messaging is adding fuel to the fire.
Michigan resident Bonnie Raffaele knows the dangers all too well. Raffaele’s daughter, Kelsey Dawn Raffaele, was killed in an automobile accident on Jan. 24, 2010, because of cell phone use while driving.
Raffaele, who started The KDR Challenge in her daughter’s name, will be the keynote speaker at Wayne State University’s ninth annual “Drive Safely to WSU” event on Sept. 19. Raffaele will share her story, providing insight into how our poor decisions as drivers affect not only us but our friends, families and neighbors, as well.
In addition to Raffaele, traffic safety experts from across the state will provide their perspectives on distracted driving and emerging traffic safety issues. Speakers include Michigan DOT Director Kirk Steudle, Michigan DOT COO Gregory Johnson, Office of Highway Safety Planning Director Michael Prince, WSU Provost Ronald Brown, WSU College of Engineering Dean Farshad Fotouhi and others. Joseph Hummer, new chair of the WSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will serve as the emcee.
The “Drive Safely to WSU” campaign, conducted by the WSU Transportation Research Group (WSU-TRG), is recognized as a groundbreaking initiative aimed at educating citizens to become better, safer drivers.
"Last year, Michigan experienced 889 traffic fatalities. While this is a 23 percent decrease from 2004, this number is unacceptable," said Associate Professor Peter Savolainen of the WSU-TRG. "We work continually with our safety partners to develop engineering, education and enforcement programs to allow the public to become safer drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists."
“Drive Safely to WSU”–this year a one-day program on Wednesday, Sept. 19–will begin with an opening ceremony at 10-10:30 a.m. in the Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center (EDC). Hands-on activities and demonstrations will continue in the EDC and on Anthony Wayne Drive Wednesday from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m., including Wayne State’s participation in the “Arrive Alive” tour, which uses a full-scale driving simulator to illustrate the hazards of driving while distracted or impaired. The campaign also will feature a variety of other educational outreach activities, prize drawings and more.
“The Drive Safely campaign is just one of a large number of initiatives through which Wayne State and others are aiming to develop a traffic safety culture where all citizens are invested in moving toward zero deaths, which is our ultimate goal," Savolainen said.
Some additional distracted-driving facts from NHTSA site Distraction.gov:
- Drivers who use hand-held devices while driving are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves or others. (NHTSA).
- Inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes (NHTSA).
- Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute [VTTI])
- Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent at 55 mph of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. (VTTI)
- Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. (Carnegie Mellon University)
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Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit engineering.wayne.edu.
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