HCN News & Notes

Dowd Brings Distracted-driving Program to Holyoke High School

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Insurance Agencies announced it will bring the newly relaunched Distractology tour to Holyoke High School from May 30 through June 2. Developed and funded by the Arbella Insurance Foundation, Distractology was one of the first programs in the country to address distracted driving with young, inexperienced drivers.

The campaign features a 36-foot-long mobile classroom outfitted with two high-tech driving simulators designed to give new drivers the chance to experience the perils of distracted driving, including texting while driving. Drivers who have completed Distractology are proven to be 19{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} less likely to have an accident and 25{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} less likely to get traffic violations.

Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the U.S. A 2015 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distraction was a factor in nearly six out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. What’s more, 40{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cellphone in a way that put people in danger. 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.

“While public awareness of distracted driving has increased in recent years, the number of distractions drivers must navigate behind the wheel are greater than ever before,” said John Donohue, chairman, president, and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group and chairman of the Arbella Insurance Foundation. “Young, inexperienced drivers are especially prone to partake in this dangerous behavior, which is why we’re committed to giving students a first-hand look at the devastating consequences of driving while distracted, whether it be changing the radio station or texting a friend.”

To date, more than 12,000 new drivers, meaning those that have been licensed less than three years or have a learner’s permit, have completed the Distractology training. During the driving simulations, teens and other new drivers face a number of updated scenarios based on real-world examples, related to smartphones, the radio, and food and drink, in residential and highway conditions. Ninety-six percent of students who participated in the program say they would recommend it to their friends.

“We realize the importance of training our youth on distracted driving. With summer approaching, Arbella and Dowd are very happy to host this very important training tool in Holyoke,” said Dowd Executive VP and Treasurer David Griffin. “The prevention of senseless accidents is certainly an issue we all support. We thank Arbella for their continued commitment to this serious issue.”