MARIEMONT, Ohio — The imagery is striking.
A mother driving on the highway with one hand on the steering wheel, and the other holding an open bottle of beer. As two children are reading in the back seat, the car begins to veer into the lane of another car, but the driver corrects.
Then, the bottle of beer is replaced by a cell phone. The narrator says, "You wouldn't do that. So, why do you do this?"
It is a comparison between driving while drinking and driving while texting, or as AAA now calls it driving "intexticated."
"Nobody really thinks about getting in their car with a beer in their hand and driving down the road, so why do you think about driving intexticated with that phone in your hand," said Mike Belcuore, market manager with AAA Driving school.
"Don't drive intoxicated - Don't drive intexticated" is a new awareness campaign launched by AAA just as prom season is getting underway, and in conjunction with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
"It is the number one crash factor for teens," Belcuore said. "It's like 30 percent of the crashes for teens are texting and driving crashes."
Mariemont High School will host its prom in the next couple weeks. AAA set up a car in an obstacle course of orange cones at the high school to simulate to students what it's like to text and drive.
"So the cones represent a lot," Belcuore said. "It can represent a pedestrian standing along the side of the road as your driving. A parked car."
Students were also asked to sign a pledge to not text and drive. Mariemont senior Avery Lindner signed the pledge and took the car for a spin.
"I usually have one of my friends text," she said. "So, that's easier."
Meanwhile, the students heard the personal tragedy associated with distracted driving. Sharon Montgomery lost her husband after he was hit by a distracted driver in 2000. Montgomery advocates for tougher laws around cell phone usage in cars.
"There have been 27 bills introduced in the last 21 years," Montgomery said. "We've only passed two and neither of them are really effective."
Montgomery said she never thought it would take so long to pass legislation in Ohio.
"In my opinion we're going to have a law that says you can't do this and the law has to be enforceable," she said.
AAA did a survey on the attitudes of Ohioans regarding distracted driving. Some of the results include:
- 71 percent of the Ohioans surveyed said they have noticed more distracted by electronic devices over the last two years
- 59 percent said they "always" or "often" put their smart phone out of reach while driving
- 61 percent admitted to "rarely" or "never" using hands-free technology in their cars
- 68 percent said they would support a law in Ohio that would ban hand-held cell phones while driving