“Anytime you take your eyes off the road to do something else, that could be the time that a child walks across the road or an animal or another car pulls out and you’re not able to respond quickly as you could if you had your eyes on the road,” said Amber Henson who works in the St. James HealthCare ER.
Volunteers from St. James Healthcare hosted a distracted driving course in the parking lot of Butte High to show new drivers the importance of paying attention.
“So, they can see how terrible it is to drive while on your cellphone and see how bad it is when you’re drunk driving. We get the students in the golf cart, have them drive through the course just once totally undistracted. Second route, we have them text while they drive, third route, we have the drunk driver goggles,” said Maria Brown.
Afterward, they evaluate their performance.
“It was a lot worse, I hit like seven-plus cones both tried so, and the drunk driving one I went faster, so that’s not a good thing,” said 15-year-old student driver Mack Williams.
When asked to describe their performance, the students were quick to point out the obvious.
“It was really bad. Yeah, don’t text and drive, that’s my advice,” said 15-year-old Piper Beckett.
Distracted driving is a serious problem.
According to the Montana Highway Patrol in 2019 inattentive driving accounted for 4,970 traffic accidents in the state which included 34 fatalities.
“I’ve seen first-hand that unfortunately cost people their lives. Not only the people who are driving and using their phone, but the innocent motoring public are really kind of at mercy of those people who are not paying attention, and that’s the worst thing in my opinion,” said Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Nick Wade.