Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Obstacle course shows dangers of distracted driving


Davis Enterprise staff writer Lauren Keene looks down at her smartphone as she bears down on a jogger — actually, a cardboard cutout — during a distracted driving demonstration Monday at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | April 10, 2014 |

WEST SACRAMENTO — They could be in any neighborhood: a bicyclist. A jogger. A new mom pushing her baby stroller. A small boy kicking around a soccer ball.
In this case, however, the “people” were cardboard cutouts, erected amid a traffic-cone obstacle course at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento.
Their purpose: to show visiting reporters first-hand the dangers of distracted driving. According to the CHP, the act of sending or receiving a text or phone call takes a driver’s eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds — during which a vehicle going 65 mph has traveled more than 100 yards, or roughly the length of a football field.
One by one, reporters from the Sacramento region, including The Davis Enterprise, got behind the wheel of a car, accelerating to 35 mph before entering the obstacle course while looking downward, as if checking out their smartphones.
“This is one of the more powerful tools that we have from an educational aspect,” said CHP Officer Mike Harris, whose agency hosted Monday’s media event along with the California Office of Traffic Safety. “We’re not saying it just to say it. We’re giving you solid evidence that the behavior of distracted driving is dangerous.”
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, with law-enforcement agencies throughout the country cracking down on drivers who use their mobile devices — behavior that authorities say accounted for 3,328 deaths and 421,000 injuries in 2012.
While some of Monday’s test drivers made it through the course safely, others took out multiple cones and one or more cardboard “victims.” One reporter rendered the stroller-pushing mother cutout useless and pulverized the sandbag that had been used to hold it upright.
As for those who cruised through the course unscathed, “that’s what happens in real life, too,” OTS spokesman Chris Cochran said. “But tomorrow might not be the same as today. That short amount of time, that short amount of space can be very dangerous.”
To the disappointment of Enterprise photographer Sue Cockrell, poised to capture images of faux carnage from the back seat, I sailed through the course four times, hitting just one traffic cone in the process. But on subsequent tries, it took just a slight nudge of the steering wheel before I heard the crunch of numerous cones underneath the car.
My cardboard “victims” included that soccer-playing boy, his pet dog and a smiling elderly couple walking hand in hand.
“Out here it’s just a cone, but out on the road you could be hitting or killing somebody — that’s the message we’re trying to send,” CHP spokeswoman Fran Clader said.
For those fortunate enough to avoid a collision, there’s the steep cost of getting caught with phone in hand: $162 for the first violation, with subsequent tickets costing $282, not including court fees. That includes what Cochran refers to as the “red-light prayer” — texting while stopped at a traffic signal, which also is against the law.
It’s just not worth it, CHP Officer Harris said.
“It’s something that’s so easily avoided by waiting until you get to your destination, or until you can find a safe place to stop,” Harris said.
Tips for avoiding distracted driving behavior:
* Turn off your phone or put it on silent mode, then put it out of reach while driving.
* Record an outgoing message on your phone that tells callers you’re driving and will get back to them when you’re off the road.
* Adjust controls and set your song playlist before you set out on the road.
* If it’s urgent, pull over in a safe place to make a call.
* Focus on driving and avoid eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking or any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.
Source: California Highway Patrol/California Office of Traffic Safety
— Reach Lauren Keene at lkeene@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene



  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Davis is not immune: Are you ready for a big quake?

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Planning begins for Davis Neighbors’ Night Out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

    Sword-attack suspect awaiting trial in Davis

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    6 militants killed in U.S. strike in Somalia

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    San Francisco is first to test urban farming law

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Learn about RNA at Science Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Google Glass will be discussed, demonstrated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Tickets still available for DHS Hall of Fame dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Cuddle up at Project Linus’ meeting

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A3

    International folk dancing offered Sundays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Rose garden bricks to be dedicated Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    It’s About Time plays Davis Farmers Market’s Picnic in the Park

    By Anthony Siino | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Register year-round at Davis Chinese School

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8



    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A4

    Have the facts before you judge

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Tesla has state walking a tightrope

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A4

    Special-needs passengers ignored

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

    A cure for Davis’ problems

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

    A good use for the MRAP

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A4

    Marriage vs. male instinct

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5



    DHS boys looking to replicate a big cross country performance

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Life without MacDonald starts Friday for DHS

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Clark recalls his hole-in-one — the first at Davis Golf Course

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Fruits of their Labor Day

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggies edge Quinnipiac in overtime

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Sports briefs: Hot Shots basketball tryouts coming up

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Baseball roundup: Aces end River Cats’ season

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B3

    Junior Blue Devils strong in home debut, winning 3 on the field

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery









    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5



    Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

    Comics: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7