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Burton Encourages Local Drivers to Stop Texting While Driving

Many Young Motorists Committing DWD – “Driving While Distracted”

COLUMBUS, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Nationwide Insurance teamed up with the Columbus City Schools and NASCAR driver Jeff Burton to raise awareness among drivers in Columbus about DWD – Driving While Distracted.

“I am an active safety advocate in NASCAR and do everything to ensure my personal safety while racing,” said Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. “That concern goes beyond the race track to the streets and highways. To help prevent potential accidents, drivers need to have their focus completely on the road and avoid distractions while behind the wheel.”

To drive home the message that multitasking behind the wheel puts drivers and their fellow motorists as risk, Nationwide hosted an event at West High School. Students and community members were able to see firsthand the impact text messaging has on their driving abilities while racing in a NASCAR simulator.

New Nationwide Insurance survey underscores DWD problem
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distracted drivers account for nearly four out of five crashes in the U.S. The problem is especially bad for young drivers. In a new survey released by Nationwide Mutual Insurance of 1,500 drivers, nearly 40 percent of the teenagers and young adults surveyed admitted they send and receive text messages while driving - the same percentage of those questioned who said they have been hit or almost hit by another car whose driver was talking on a cell phone.

“Clearly, distracted driving has taken over our roadways, and our survey shows that no one is immune -- no matter how safe they think they are,” said Bill Windsor, Associate Vice President of Safety for Nationwide.

Distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the road even for just seconds put drivers and their passengers at great risk.

“At Nationwide, we’re as much in the business of preventing accidents as we are in reimbursing people after an accident,” said David Arango, Nationwide’s Regional Vice President for Ohio and West Virginia. “Text messaging comes natural to Gen Y-ers. However, multitasking while behind the wheel is quite different from multitasking while sitting at home.”

Nationwide and the National Safety Council developed www.NationwideSmartRide.com, a Website to provide parents and teens free tools and resources to help develop safe drivers and reinforce smart behavior. It is available free to anyone regardless of whether they are a Nationwide customer.

"The increase in cell phone use and text-messaging by young drivers – and adult drivers as well – makes the "don't drive while distracted" message critical for all communities,” said Dr. Gene Harris, Superintendent of Columbus City Schools. “I applaud Nationwide and NASCAR for addressing this very contemporary safety issue.”

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