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Morrill Insurance Teams Up with Arbella to Fight Distracted Driving at Norwood High

Norwood High senior Melanie Noah takes the driving test. Photos by Michael Hardman
Norwood High senior Melanie Noah takes the driving test. Photos by Michael Hardman
Six seconds.

That's how long it takes for a driver to lose his or her concentration to possibly cause an accident.

Norwood High School students learned this last week from Distractology 101, an interactive program developed by the Arbella Insurance Foundation to teach young drivers the dangers of distracted driving, including texting while driving. The company developed the program with the University of Massachusetts. - Amherst.
 The Norwood appearance was sponsored by Morrill Insurance. Heremela Beachew, a Norwood resident from Morrill Insurance, was on hand for the program.

"If you take your eyes off the road for six seconds, it increases the likelihood of crashing," said Topher Paone, who works for Arbella. He was operating the high-tech driving stimulator in the mobile classroom "Our brain can't do two things at once. You have to keep your phone off. When you text you lose your concentration."

Norwood High students were allowed to sign out of school to go to the back parking lot to take the test. They filled out a survey and could take an online course after they were done with the simulator.

"Kids are pretty honest about their driving habits," said Paone. "The No. 1 distraction is texting while driving."

Paone gave the test to Melanie Noah, a 17-year-old Norwood High senior. He had her reading a text aloud when she was driving.The simulator took Noah over winding roads in the country and through the city, while people walking and driving motorcycles came into her path.

After an accident, Paone would explain to Noah what happened.
"Things happen very quickly," said Noah. "You can see what would happen."

She said she should would recommend the program to her friends.

“In just three years, Arbella’s Distractology 101 campaign has made enormous strides in terms of combating distracted driving,” said Christopher Gove of the Morrill Insurance Group in a press release. “The program’s mission is quite simple: to educate young drivers of the dangers of distracted driving and ultimately save the lives of teens living in communities such as Norwood. Research has indicated that this type of real-life simulation and education can truly help to change dangerous behavior, and we at the Morrill Insurance Group are proud to support this important mission.”

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