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Lesson 3: Distracted Driving and Our School

Fast Fact: Of those people killed in distraction-affected crashes, 385 died in crashes in which at least one of the drivers was using a cell phone (12% of fatalities in distraction-affected crashes) at the time of the crash. Use of a cell phone includes talking/listening to a cell phone, dialing/texting a cell phone, or other cell-phone-related activities. ("Traffic Safety Facts: Distracted Driving 2011," National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

Warm-Up: As a way to reconnect with the research students performed in Lesson 2, have students share a fact or statistic related to distracted driving that they found particularly interesting. Then have students consider how their community might compare to the state or nation as a whole in terms of levels of distracted driving. Ask students to clarify, verify, or challenge ideas during the classroom discussion.

  • Compared to the nation as a whole, do you think there is a greater or lower percentage of distracted drivers in your community? What makes you think this?
  • Do you think drivers are more likely to drive safely when close to a school? Why or why not?

Activity: Guide students in designing a distracted-driving survey to be conducted near the school or at a busy local intersection. Ask students to determine the parameters of their survey (such as what specifics to record for each distracted driver they see). Have students agree upon a set number of drivers to observe, such as 50 or 100, and determine how they will work together to get an accurate count of distracted drivers. Before they conduct the survey, make sure students have created one survey template that everyone can use to standardize recording their observations.

Critical Thinking: Have students use their data to create a statistical profile of the distracted driving they observed. They should create percentages of the different types of distracted driving, as well as the frequency of distraction. Using the data collected in Lesson 2, have students write a comparative profile of the local data with state and national rates. As students write, remind them to pay close attention to using correct grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Ask students to verify their data and challenge or corroborate conclusions.

  • Does the level of distracted driving we observed in our community reflect state or national findings?
  • What might explain the differences between student observations and state or national statistics?
  • What was the most common form of driver distraction you observed?
  • How does this finding compare to surveys that have been performed using a larger set of data?
  • Were you surprised by any of the results?

Community Connection: Provide students with Part 2 of Worksheet B. After they review the different types of charts and graphs, ask students to create appropriate visual representations of the data they collected during their distracted-driving assessment. In addition, have students create a two-way frequency table comparing the frequency of various forms of distracted driving as revealed by national surveys and the class's own community assessment.

  • What does the data collected from our community assessment tell us about the level of distracted driving in our area?
  • When you examined the possible choices for ways to convey data visually in the form of a chart or graph, which format(s) made the most sense? Why?

Role-Play: Changing one's habits takes the support of a whole community of friends and family. Ask students to pair up and role-play the various ways they can convince others to become advocates for safe driving. Have them imagine the barriers others have to speaking up when they see distracted driving. How will they convince friends and family members to pledge not to drive distracted and to interrupt others when they witness distracted driving? How could students coach others to become "distracted-driving interrupters"?

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