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Program Overview

Through the Decide to Drive initiative high school students have the opportunity to create positive change in their community while helping to hone essential skills for college readiness. The Decide to Drive program uses Common Core–ready language arts lessons and activities to raise awareness about distracted driving among teens in grades 9–12. A culminating student magazine project prepares teens to be advocates for remaining aware and alert behind the wheel.
View Common Core Standards Chart for Grades 9–10
View Common Core Standards Chart for Grades 11–12

Lesson 1: Distracted Driving-Dangers, Awareness, and Advocacy
Students learn basic facts about distracted driving and explore the art of persuasive writing by identifying the use of ethos, pathos, and logos in a short article about the epidemic of distracted driving in America. Next, students exercise their critical thinking skills in a group discussion before composing a short essay about distracted driving and the power of advocacy.
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Lesson 2: Facts, Statistics, and Charts
Students delve deeper into the topic of distracted driving as they perform their own research to uncover attention-getting facts from reputable national, state, and local resources. Students will discuss what kind of facts will have the greatest impact on their target audience and how to present data in an appropriate chart or graph. This lesson culminates with students writing a short essay exploring ways to end distracted driving in their community.
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Lesson 3: Distracted Driving and Our School
Students perform their own distracted-driving assessment at a location close to school to better understand the prevalence of distracted driving in their immediate community. After collecting their data, students compare their results with the national statistics collected in Lesson 2 and create appropriate visual representations of the data.
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Culminating Project: Student-Created Advocacy Magazine
Students will create a four-page magazine filled with images, charts, and short articles about the dangers of distracted driving to distribute to members of their community. Some students will create a magazine geared toward parents and adults in the community, while others will create a magazine geared toward other students. In conjunction with publishing this magazine, students will consider other ways to be effective advocates in their community, such as organizing a distracted-driving-awareness event or creating an advocacy campaign for social media.
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Distracted Driving Defined:
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety (Distraction.gov). These could include, but are not limited to, texting, using a cell phone, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, combing your hair, talking to friends, looking at maps, or reaching into the backseat for something.

Fast Facts 
In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers and an estimated additional 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. ("New NHTSA Analysis Shows 2011 Traffic Fatalities Declined by Nearly Two Percent," National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

According to a survey released in 2013 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 660,000 drivers on the roads of America at any given moment of the day who are engaging in texting, tweeting, making phone calls, or otherwise using technology in a way that distracts them from driving. ("NHTSA Survey Finds 660,000 Drivers Using Cell Phones or Manipulating Electronic Devices While Driving at Any Given Daylight Moment," NHTSA)

A 2012 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety distracted driving study found that 15.1 percent of teens drove while engaged in distracting activities that did not involve an electronic device. These distractions included adjusting controls, grooming, eating or drinking, reaching for an object inside the car, communicating with people outside of the car, turning around to see the backseat and reading. ("Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers," AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety)

Compared to non-distracted drivers, drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash. ("Key Facts and Statistics," Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)

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