MIAMI COUNTY — Lisa Cano State Farm Agency in Troy and the Miami County Safe Communities Coalition are working together to combat the incidents of teen driver crashes in Miami County. For the third year, they will challenge high school students to design a safe driving awareness billboard.
Students in grades 9-12 will be encouraged to design and submit a billboard addressing the issue of distracted driving, being a safe passenger, avoiding drinking and driving and any other issue that might lead to a crash. The student with the winning billboard design will receive a $500 cash award, and their design will appear on billboards around Miami County. Billboards will be displayed leading up to or during National Teen Driver Safety Week in October.
Based on results of the eighth annual State Farm distracted driving survey released in 2017, drivers continue to have a hard time putting down their cell phones while behind the wheel. The report follows major trends in cell phone use and explores many of the distractions that take eyes, hands and minds off driving.
Nearly all drivers — 91 percent — reported owning a smartphone, and more than half say they use them while driving. After several years of steady increases in distracting cell phone activities, taking pictures and recording videos saw significant increases this year.
• 50 percent talk on a hand-held phone
• 35 percent text while driving
• 29 percent access the internet while driving
• 26 percent read email behind the wheel; 21 percent respond
• 22 percent access social networks
• 23 percent take pictures; 14 percent record video
• 93 percent talk to passengers; 23 percent attend to children; 21 percent attend to pets in the car
Drivers also report listening to loud music, eating, speeding and driving tired as other risky behaviors.
Survey respondents reported using smartphones while driving despite finding them distracting and despite thinking the behavior increases the likelihood of a crash. When asked why, they provided reasons such as improved efficiency, need to stay in touch, habit, searching for information on the internet, and seeing something they want to share.
Young drivers are particularly in danger, as motor vehicle crashes continue to be the No. 1 killer of teens. The goal of the billboard contest is to educate the student billboard designers as well as all those who use the roadways.
For more information contact Miami County Safe Communities Coordinator Vicky Knisley-Henry at Miami County Public Health by calling 573-3512 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.