Students in the Friday Night Live (FNL) program at two local schools recently participated in a statewide effort to bring attention to the dangers of distracted driving.
The annual traffic-safety assessment is known as Roadwatch. Students across the state monitored intersections near their school last month and recorded instances of distracted driving as part of the assessment. Locally, students from El Cajon Valley High School in El Cajon and Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista participated.
The students said they saw two people steering with their knees while doing other things and lots of people eating or talking on the phone.
"I was shocked to see so many people driving their kids to school distracted," one of the students from El Cajon said.
In Vista, students observed nearly 1,000 vehicles and saw 175 distracted drivers in an hour.
Friday Night Live is led by high school students who are dedicated to creating and maintaining healthy environments for youth. It's run locally as part of the San Diego County Office of Education.
In total, 32 California counties surveyed 82 intersections near high schools and middle schools, witnessing distractions ranging from hand-held cellphones to kissing, eating with utensils, and using a tablet or laptop.
Results of the Roadwatch assessment show an increase since 2017, in the average amount of distracted driving instances per intersection. In one-hour, an average of 139 distracted drivers drove past California schools the morning of Oct. 16.
The participants compiled the statistics to help them fight for safer roadways. Traffic accidents are the number one killer of people ages 15-24 in the United States.
"This assessment activity alone will not be what changes the community," said Lynne Goodwin, program director of the California Friday Night Live Partnership. "The actions that FNL participants take because of this activity is where we will see real change occur."
FNL members work to improve traffic safety in their communities with funding provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.