By Marcus Camacho
California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and iHeart Media teach students the dangers of distractions while driving for Distracted Driving Awareness Month at East Los Angeles College on April 20.
Every April, OTS, the California Highway Patrol and more than 200 law enforcement agencies across California participate in the month-long event that aims at preventing driving deaths caused by distractions.
OTS is going to different campuses in California to share facts about the dangers of being distracted while driving.
The event had a timed basketball-shooting contest where participants were forced to shoot basketballs and reply to texts that were sent from an electronic device at the same time.
“Students in their 20s are one of the largest demographics for fatalities due to distracted driving, so we are out here hoping to educate in a fun way, in an interactive way, with the basketball hoops while they have to text while they shoot,” OTS Representative Jennie Leatherman said.
The game is meant to show students how hard it is to focus on making shots and trying to text at the same time.
“The reason being is that something like shooting baskets, in the bigger picture like driving, is something that requires concentration. We’re just trying to show them something as simple as shooting baskets cannot be done while text messaging,” Leatherman said.
Students struggled to shoot the ball and text at the same time. Most of the time they would stop shooting and would text.
When students would stop shooting to text, the representatives would say things like “you wouldn’t stop driving to text,” or things that would make them keep shooting.
The point of the contest was to show students that you could not give your full attention to driving if they are busy trying to do other things.
A survey by California Traffic Safety reported that 61 percent of California drivers said they were hit or nearly hit by a driver who was talking on a cell phone in 2014.
Distraction.gov reported 10 percent of drivers under the age of 20 that were involved in fatal crashes, were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
Drivers under the age of 20 hold the largest portion of accidents due to distractions.
After students were done with the Shoot the Hoops and Text Competition, they would go to a prize wheel that offered chap-sticks, backpacks, hand sanitizers, $5 Starbucks cards and $100 American Express cards.
The students were also asked to enter for a chance to win a VIP trip for two to the Wango Tango concert in Los Angeles.
For more information visit the website at ots.ca.gov