Friday Night Live students study effects of distracted drivers

Orange County students  involved in the Friday Night Live and Club Live programs from seven schools recently participated in the statewide Roadwatch observational study to document the effects of distracted driving in their communities.

The survey was conducted at students’ schools during a one-hour period prior to the start of school on Oct. 16. Participants noted drivers in streets surrounding their campus who were distracted by devices, passengers, pets, food and more.

student standing on street corner surveying trafficSurveyors documented a combined 2,000 distractions including drivers who used hand-held and hands-free devices, ate (including one driver who was using a utensil), applied make-up, brushed hair, used a laptop, and read.

“Participation in Roadwatch is an eye-opening experience for students as they are often surprised by what they observe and by the frequency of distracted drivers,” said Elke Petras, Program Specialist with the Orange County Department of Education. “The experience motivates students to encourage their peers, parents, and community members to become safer drivers.”

Statewide, over 32 counties participated in the eighth annual survey. Eighty-two intersections were monitored. In Orange County, students from the following campuses participated:

Anaheim Union High School District; Brookhurst Junior High School, Magnolia High School, Savanna High School

Garden Grove Unified School District; Bolsa Grande High School, Hare High School, Jordan Intermediate School, Santiago High School

Students will use the information to support their traffic safety projects throughout the school year with funding provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Roadwatch assessment project provides data to improve roadway safety.

“This assessment activity alone will not be what changes the community,” Lynne Goodwin, Program Director of the California Friday Night Live Partnership, said.  “The actions that FNL and Club Live participants take because of this activity is where we will see real change occur.”

Bolsa Grande High School student Catherine Le shared her insights after the event, “What I found out today is that adult drivers with passengers in their seats are less likely to be distracted than people that are driving alone.”