Event targets distracted driving

Reineke Tiffin Ford, 2020 SR 18, hosted a distracted driving event for the public Tuesday to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

The event was a partnership between The National Automobile Dealership Association Charitable Fund, Tiffin Police Department and Reineke Family Dealerships, and offered activities and displays for those in attendance.

Suzie Reineke, marketing coordinator for Reineke Family Dealerships, said the police department was “phenomenal” in its contribution to the event, and had on display a Special Response Team unit, other police vehicles and a vehicle damaged in a distracted driving accident.

Jake DeMonte, canine handler for the police department, said the event was a great opportunity to raise awareness about distracted and impaired driving.

The number of accidents caused by distracted driving has been trending upward, and DeMonte said, in his opinion, texting is the largest contributor to distracted driving incidents.

“Distracted driving is as bad as drinking and driving,” he said. “It impairs reaction time and a driver’s ability to multitask, and affects steering, braking and acceleration.”

One common misconception, he said, is that texting is largely a problem with younger drivers. In reality, drivers of all ages are negatively affected by texting, DeMonte said.

The event offered visitors a chance to gather information about different types of distractions and sign a pledge promising not to participate in distracting activities while driving. Also, a course was set up allowing drivers to operate a golf cart through a series of orange cones while texting, and then while wearing beer goggles, to simulate impaired driving.