LUCASVILLE — The Ohio Department of Transportation District 9, has a special feature at their Scioto County Fair booth that is worthy of the attention of all drivers, and future drivers. It is a distracted driving simulator machine.
Edward Cox, safety and health consultant for ODOT District 9, said the simulator is beneficial for disseminating the message of the dangers of distracted driving.
“The simulator is a good way to get, not only kids, but everyone who drivers an opportunity to see that if you want to use a cellular phone to text and drive, to see what the result can be,” Cox said. “They may sit at a green light for five or 10 minutes trying to text on a phone, and end up getting to an accident. So, it is just a good way to let them see the dangers of distracted driving, and what it can do.”
ODOT District 9 purchased distracted driving simulator for $12,000, according to Cox.
“ODOT as a whole, received a couple of these simulator machines through the Dom Tiberi, ‘Maria’s Message,’ and we had a hard time getting them,” Cox said. “But June of this year we went out and purchased this machine, so District 9 owns this machine, so we go across to all of the eight counties that we cover to share this machine with the public. This simulator costs $12,000.”
Pointing to a photograph included in ODOT’s display booth at the Scioto County Fair, Andrea Woods, safety and health inspector 1, a terrible accident occurred in Jackson County, due to distracted driving.
“This was our Jackson County accident. This young lady was posting a picture of her dog that was in the car with her onto a social media site, and she ran into one of our ODOT dump trucks,” Woods said. “The ODOT worker is still have some complications from this accident, and she is not going to be 100 percent, ever again.”
Distracted driving continues to plague ODOT District 9, Woods said.
“This is a major, major issue,” Woods said. “We have workers out there out on the road, and we have seen a lot of people not paying attention, driving extremely fast through construction zones. We are out there working, and some times we will even have distracted drivers follow our trucks right into the work zones that are off limits to motorists. This is such a major problem. We want everyone to go home safely to their families.”
In addition to the distraction of texting while driving, Woods said there are many drivers on the road who attempt to eat and drive, apply cosmetics, and pick up various items while trying to drive at the same time.
“You see a lot out there, so many distractions. So, we are passionate about getting the word out there, and helping the public to realize just how dangerous distracted driving really is,” Woods said.
ODOT workers are seriously injured each year when motorists choose to be distracted while driving.
“Many of the injuries of the men and women who work for ODOT have been the direct result of distract driving accidents for our District 9. That is why we are doing this,” Woods said. “We are supposed to reduce injuries. The worst call that I ever received was when one of our guys got hit last year on the road by a guy who was distracted. The worker is off of work for ever. He flew 30 feet into the air, it was a major impact in Pike County, and was all due to distracted driving. We get a few injuries here and there, but all of the major injuries have been due to distracted driving.”
For children at least age 14, the simulator is an eye opener about just how detrimental distracted driving can be.
“No matter how these kids do, because we do 14 and older, and they may not be old enough to get their driver license yet, but it is a great opportunity get them in here and talk to them so that we they do start driving, it only takes that one second for them to get distracted and something happen to them,” Woods said.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.