Students engage in distracted driving event as part of Commuter Appreciation Week

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A student playing Mario Kart while wearing goggles that mimic intoxicated vision during Kent Police’s distracted driving event on Thursday. 

Natalie Eusebio

The Center for Student Involvement hosted Commuter Appreciation Week in the Student Center this past week, and Thursday’s activities centered around the dangers of distracted driving.

Two simulations were available on the second floor of the Student Center Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. The simulation from the Ohio Department of Transportation asked students to attempt to drive while doing other activities; like texting or making phone calls. Another simulator provided by the Kent State Police Department had participants play a game of Mario Kart while wearing goggles that altered the participant’s vision to mimic driving while intoxicated.

Junior digital media productions major Wise Ellis was working the event for CSI.

“I think distracted driving is something that everyone who drives has to face,” he said of the event.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that nine people are killed a day in America due to accidents involving distracted drivers.

Tricia Knoles Community Resource Officer for the Kent State Police Department and said that distractions cause accidents for both drivers and pedestrians.

“Nationwide we have seen an increase in either distracted or impaired driving, or instances when a pedestrian is focused on their phone and not their surroundings,” Knoles said.

Knoles said distracted driving is an issue students on campus and in Kent should be aware of.

“We have a lot of pedestrian accidents on campus,” Knoles said. “People just don’t look where they are walking.”

In April, the Kent State Police Department will partner with the Kent Police to introduce a three week long campaign to promote driving and walking without distractions.

“We’ll be handing out coupons to students who correctly and safely cross the street,” Knoles said.

The campaign is designed to help students understand the importance of their actions and surroundings while on or near the road.

Jason Plumb tested out the Mario Kart Simulator Thursday afternoon. Plumb is a non-traditional veteran student in his senior year at Kent State. Plumb frequently travels across the country, and said that he is an experienced driver.

“I think distraction can be positive if they keeps you awake and alert while driving on a straight road,” Plumb said. “But once you are in a city, then that is a whole different situation.”

Plumb said he witnesses a lot of distracted driving in Kent.

“I’ll notice someone swerving over the line ahead of me, and now all of a sudden I am distracted too because I am watching them and trying to avoid them on the road.”

Knoles said events like Thursday’s help to inform students and encourage safe driving. 

Natalie Eusebio is the commuters and apartments reporter. Contact her at [email protected]