Interactive distracted driving program comes to SHS

Published 7:08 pm Thursday, April 11, 2019


Beginning on April 8, Southampton High School students were able to experience the dangers of distracted driving through an interactive program from the traffic safety nonprofit DRIVE SMART Virginia. In its sixth year, the program has already reached thousands of Virginia teenagers. A survey of program participants has found that distracted driving continues to be a serious issue among this age group.

Forty percent of teen drivers surveyed said they were somewhat or very confident in their ability to drive while distracted. Furthermore, 27 percent of teens surveyed admitted to using their cell phones while driving. While these numbers are alarming, DRIVE SMART Virginia knows their interactive programming is making a difference. In fact, 81 percent of students said they would be less likely to drive distracted after this program and 95 percent would recommend it to their peers.

The educational program included a behind-the-wheel portion that allows participants to drive through real-life road scenarios and experience the dangers one can encounter on the road — from the safety of virtual reality. A 3D headset turned a functional pickup truck into a life-sized driving simulator, giving students valuable hands-on education in a safe and controlled environment.

“This interactive educational program has proven to change participants’ attitudes toward dangerous driving behaviors,” said Janet Brooking, executive director of DRIVE SMART Virginia. “Hopefully, this will reduce the tragic loss of young lives on our roadways.”

Along with the distracted driving simulator, students also experienced the dangers of impaired driving with a tricycle obstacle course. This course used goggles that simulate different impairment levels to demonstrate the difficulty of driving under the influence of alcohol. DRIVE SMART Virginia partners with local community groups such as trauma centers, law enforcement agencies and victim advocates to expand the educational programming by bringing real-world stories to students

This event wass funded by the insurance company State Farm.

“One of State Farm’s primary goals is to keep drivers safe behind the wheel,” said Kate Beadle, State Farm spokesperson. “Drivers today face a growing number of distractions. We are especially concerned about young drivers’ ability to handle distractions. They are at the greatest risk of crashing while distracted.”

DRIVE SMART Virginia is a nonprofit organization charged with raising awareness and changing driver behavior in order to improve the safety of the roadways of the Commonwealth. Founded in 1995, the organization is led by a diverse board representing safety advocates, the insurance industry and law enforcement, among others. More information about DRIVE SMART can be found at