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A class to help stop distracted driving

We all know how dangerous distracted driving is; we have all witnessed egregious driving behavior by drivers here in Honolulu, where it was clear the driver was not paying attention to their driving and was more likely than not, distracted by texting or some other activity involving a cellphone.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has recognized the danger and created a dedicated website, distraction.gov to highlight the risks of car accidents  caused by distraction. The Department is attempting to deflect the juggernaut of distraction created by the irresistible and often deadly attraction presented by smartphones.

While technology may be able to assist with reducing the attraction of the bright and shiny smartphone, we also all know that fundamentally, this is an issue of human behavior and it can be changed.

Drunk driving was considered acceptable for years, as people would stop and "have one for the road," and this often was their last drink. People could solve the problem merely by shutting off their phones when they enter a vehicle.

But, like alcohol use during the 1960s, people tell themselves, "I can handle it." Of course, they can't and one more car accident occurs, with serious, lifelong injures or worse, resulting.

The University of California San Diego has created a training program to help educate drivers and reduce this behavior. The program is based on current research and real-life examples of how distracted driving caused by cellphones affect other motorists.

The professor who created the training class noted that like drunk driving and smoking in public, the behavior responsible for distracted driving can be changed.

And like that effort, the changing of the cultural norms of behavior will require a combination of law, technology and behavior.

Source: Utsandiego.com, "Class aims to refocus distracted drivers," Chris Nicols, December 4, 2013

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