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Lesson 2: Facts and Statistics

Fast Fact: Nearly 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of all near crashes involve driver inattention within three seconds of the accident. ("Breakthrough Research on Real-World Driver Behavior Released, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute)

Warm-Up: Ask students to recall what they learned about the use of ethos, pathos, and logos in persuasive speaking and writing.

  • Was there a particular mode of persuasion that impacted them most from the article "The Devastating Consequences of Distracted Driving" or was the combination of approaches most effective?
  • Would the article still have been effective without any facts and statistics? Why or why not?

Activity: Provide students with copies of Part 1 of Worksheet B and access to the Internet in order to perform their research on facts and statistics related to distracted driving. Ask students to make sure part of their research includes quantitative data and information they located in video or multimedia formats in addition to traditional text formats. Remind students to always assess the credibility of the sites where they conduct research, as well as to cite their sources.

Critical Thinking: There is an ever greater amount of research into distracted driving, and yet more information does not equate to more effective advocacy; rather, it's selecting just the right facts to support your message and then presenting them effectively.

  • Who is the audience you hope to reach as an advocate?
  • What kinds of facts do you think will have the greatest impact on your audience in terms of motivating them to change their driving habits? Why?
  • Is including more facts always better? Why or why not?
  • What kinds of images do you think will have the greatest impact on your audience?

Community Connection: Invite students to write a short essay exploring approaches they could use to advocate with peers, parents, and even adults they don't know very well. Students should use proper grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation in their writing, as well as reference facts and statistics from their research.

  • What statistics from your research do you feel are most attention grabbing?
  • What might you say to your parents if you notice they are driving while distracted?
  • How might you encourage a friend to be more focused while driving?
  • Are there ways that someone who doesn't even drive a car can be an effective advocate?

Role-Play: Help your students become confident "interrupters" of distracted driving by having them practice ways to intervene when they notice someone engaging in a distracting activity while driving. As a class, brainstorm distracted driver scenarios and list them on the board. Ask students to categorize the suggested ways to interrupt distracted drivers, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement. Next, divide students into pairs and ask them to take turns being the driver and the "interrupter" in the various scenarios described by the class. What code word or phrase could students use with friends and family to remind each other to focus on the road if they notice that the driver is distracted? For students in grades 11 and 12, ask them to actively probe their partner's reasoning and express divergent opinions. How could a passenger offer to take over an activity that would distract the driver?

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