Distracted driving is an epidemic on American roads, and the proliferation of mobile devices, cell phones and portable media players shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. BMW North America has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Transportation to expand its efforts to educate new drivers about the dangers posed by driving distractions.
BMW of North America has been promoting the DRIVE IT HOME, DON’T TXT & DRIVE campaign since the spring of 2010. While meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, BMW of North America President Jim O’Donnell announced that, in 2011, BMW will roll out an expanded version of the campaign, which is designed to help teen drivers gain experience and develop safe habits.
The DRIVE IT HOME, DON’T TXT & DRIVE campaign was created as a companion to BMW’s popular Teen Driving School series, in which experienced driving instructors teach young drivers how to better handle emergency road situations. The Teen Driving Schools are designed to go beyond the basics learned in traditional driver’s education and offer instead a range of advanced driving techniques that are very useful in real-world situations.
Chief among the tools used by BMW instructors to illustrate the dangers of distracted driving is an emphasis on how fast conditions around a driver can change while attention is diverted from the road in order to send/answer a text message or phone call. “Our driving instructors teach that it’s vital to remain focused on the road ahead and be aware of one’s surroundings,” said Dan Gubitosa, the director of the BMW Performance Driving Center.
With 87 percent of teens having stated in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) poll that texting and driving is a behavior that they engage in, Jim O’Donnell sees the BMW education program as an important weapon in the arsenal used to keep young people (and everyone around them) safe on America’s roads. “Our DON’T TXT & DRIVE campaign coupled with road course training helps students understand and experience what can happen when they are distracted while driving,” he said when addressing the crowd at the joint BMW/Dept. of Transportation press conference. The fact that the BMW Teen Driving Schools are able to drive home this message within the confines of a controlled course environment gives the program an extra edge compared to typical Driver’s Ed.
Transportation Secretary LaHood agreed, saying, “I applaud BMW’s efforts to help raise awareness through their ‘Don’t TXT & Drive’ campaign.” He went on to state that the government is working hard with a number of industry and regulatory players to “put a stop to this deadly behavior.”
Distracted driving is a problem that is certainly not restricted to teenagers – plenty of adults also engage in this risky activity. BMW’s program works to instill the kinds of skills and awareness young drivers need to see them through some of their most dangerous years behind the wheel – skills and awareness that are the core values of the BMW DRIVE IT HOME, DON’T TXT & DRIVE campaign.