Local News

UNC, Chapel Hill sponsor 'crash course' in distracted driving

Posted February 15, 2012


— The Town of Chapel Hill Chapel Hill and police at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are letting motorists see just how texting and talking on cellphones can affect their driving.

The DriveSquare simulator in the lobby Wednesday of Fetzer Hall on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus put drivers through a course, measuring their driving skills and shows how quickly attention can be diverted by trying to use a cellphone to make a call or send a text.

Drivers who tried the simulator Wednesday morning said they were surprised at just how quickly they crashed when trying to drive while using the phone.

"It took me about 10 seconds, and I wrecked," UNC freshmen Caroline Hudson said. "It's not worth a life. A text is not worth someone's life or your own."

UNC's head football coach, Larry Fedora, was also on hand at the event. He didn't do so well either.

"I don't think you can try to look at something else and drive at the same time," he said.

It's all part of a campaign to educate drivers about the danger of distractions.

Texting while driving is already illegal in North Carolina, but town leaders will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. next Monday at Chapel Hill Town Hall on a proposed ordinance to ban cellphone use while driving.

UNC, Chapel Hill campaign raises awareness of distracted driving UNC, Chapel Hill sponsor 'crash course' in distracted driving

Studies have shown drivers who use handheld devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

In 2009, nearly 5,500 people in the U.S. were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, and another 450,000 were hurt.

Data collected from the state Department of Transportation from 2004 to 2008 shows an average of 57,984 people a year are involved in crashes in North Carolina where distracted driving is a factor. More than 13,000 are injured and 119 die.

The North Carolina General Assembly voted in 2009 to make texting while driving illegal and troopers began issuing tickets in 2010 to drivers who violate that law. About 1,500 drivers have been cited.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Dan Cooper Feb 15, 2012

    Good drivers with no points should be eligible for an endorsement by test which would allow them to drive and talk on the cell phone, instead of having a power hungry town council throw a blanket on all drivers calling them inept. Some of us are responsible enough to use the phone while driving, some are not, but let the DMV decide, not an out of control town council.

  • turbo08 Feb 15, 2012

    If you text while driving you're no better than driving while drunk. If you have both hands on the wheel while talking on the phone, that is another thing.

  • love2dostuff Feb 15, 2012


    What planet are you from to think that just because they jumped off the cliff, so will I.

    Glad we don't have any koolaid around here because you'd be at the front of the line.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Feb 15, 2012

    Distracted drivers are every where and not just Chapel Hill. Cell-phones is a major problem.

  • Pepe Silvia Feb 15, 2012

    "Since you are probably not from around here I will make it simple....it's called justice." - ncouterbanks69

    What would make you assume I am not from around here? The fact that, unlike many who post on here, I can reply in the form of a complete thought? Or is it just my user name? (Its from a TV show and has absolutely nothing to do with my actual name)

    As for justice... to quote Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." (Princess Bride)

  • babedan Feb 15, 2012

    Johnny, with a Bluetooth, whether it is built in the car or a single bud in ones ear is no more of a distraction than listening to the radio. You want smooth and relaxed, are you kidding me. Falling asleep behind the wheel when smooth and relaxed is very dangerous. Maybe you can't walk and chew gum at the same time, but keeping both hands on the wheel while talking through a bluetooth, IMO is OK. Just don't tie up one hand holding the phone to your ear and then talking with your other hand.

  • ncouterbanks69 Feb 15, 2012

    "Your response just defies logic. Everyone else is distracted/inattentive, so you're gonna be distracted too? The fact that everyone else is distracted is all the *more* reason to drive as defensive as possible and without distractions."

    Normally that is possible. However being one that view driving as something that actually takes effort (unlike a LOT of driver on the road....not targeting anyone specific). It takes effort and concentration and I actually give it those things. Me being on my cell certainly takes away from that however, I still would be in the top 10% of drivers out there. When you mix a horrible driver AND a dog/cell/burger you are just asking for trouble. I like getting the things I do on my cell out of the way and will continue to do so until there are actually responsible drivers out there.

  • JohnnyMcRonny Feb 15, 2012

    $6? Wait until we devalue the dollar.

  • JohnnyMcRonny Feb 15, 2012

    My post got chopped. Should end:

    People who claim that they can drive as well on the phone as off are full of it.

  • Screw WrAl Feb 15, 2012

    "$5 was the last two years conspiracy. Lets go for $6 this year."

    Don't kid yourself. Syria implodes, ImaDingDing goes rogue in Iran and one hurricane scares the old guy at hurricane center and we can get to $6 easily.