Showdown at Need 2 Speed Demonstrates Danger of Distracted Driving

need-2-speed-23-of-42By Ty O’Neil

On Wednesday night Need 2 Speed was home to a live distracted driving demonstration. On hand were the Reno Police Department (RPD), REMSA officials and invited high school students.

Visitors to the event were greeted by two BMW police motorcycles, a REMSA ambulance and an attention-grabbing vehicle that was involved in a distracted driving accident. Passersby stopped to see what was going on, thinking a crash had just occurred. They were informed of the distracted driving event and walked away with what seemed like a lasting impression of seeing such a physical manifestation of what can happen when someone is distracted behind the wheel.

need-2-speed-27-of-42Cindy Green of REMSA and Tim Broadway of the RPD briefly spoke to the predominantly youth audience and members of media before the racing began.

“Eleven teenagers everyday die on the roads in our country. Take a look around — 11 of you could be gone… We have had 225 deaths on Nevada roadways this year,” Green said.

A demonstration at Need 2 Speed took place without the distraction of text messaging. Despite the youth and gusto of the racers, the first race had few instances of contact with either other racers or walls. There was some good competition as high schoolers and Need 2 Speed employees jockeyed for position. But with the first race completed it was time to bring out the distraction element of the evening.

After a quick pit stop, racers were asked to race with cellphones in hand and respond to a number of questions that would be sent to them as the race went on.

Androids and iPhones were in hand as the race began, and almost immediately the difference could be seen. Even before the racers needed to respond to text messages the act of driving using only one hand was having a clear impact on the racers. Missed turns and contact with the wall could be seen and heard across the track.

Then the texts began, a near cacophony of crashes could be heard throughout the building. The staff at a few points had to remotely shut the cars down so racers could safely restart their vehicles. The difference of distracted driving versus attentive driving was very clear to those watching and racing.

need-2-speed-20-of-42For a finale RPD and REMSA faced off in a race. While they did not have the distractions, they did, if unintentionally, give a great demonstration of the dangers of aggressive driving. With bragging rights on the line, all racers threw caution to the wind. A few racers were spun out and a few jesting phrases were tossed between departments, but in the end everyone was in a great mood and all smiles. RPD swept the podium.

After the race Broadway, who placed third in the race, spoke about distracted driving in Reno.

“Unfortunately over the past several months Reno’s had 9 fatal crashes in our area,” he said. “A lot of those are related to drinking and driving but again just because someone’s drinking doesn’t mean they’re not texting and driving too, which adds to the distraction.”

When asked what constitutes distracted driving, Broadway said, “Not having your animal secured and having them jump back and forth… Eating a hamburger in one hand and a soda in the other.”

Distracted driving can result in anything from a warning up to a suspension of your drivers license.

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Ty O'Neil
About Ty O'Neil 104 Articles

Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at ThisisReno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad