Wreck reminds students to put down phone

GLENDALE — A mangled, scorched truck parked on Glendale Community College’s main quad on Tuesday was a reminder that distracted driving could have tragic consequences.

Glendale police on Tuesday displayed the badly damaged truck on the campus in an effort to warn students of the potential consequences of inattention.

Student Renald Calixte, 20, doesn’t have a driver’s license, but said he wouldn’t attempt to drive while talking on a hand-held cell phone.

“Hopefully, [the students] get moved by it because there are tons of accidents,” Calixte said.

Longtime Glendale police volunteer Jorge Acevedo helped organize the display after he said he noticed several students walking or driving to school while talking on hand-held cell phones.

“Unfortunately, we find that 80% of the collisions that occur involve some type of distracted driving, and therefore our education platform is very critical,” police Lt. Gary Montecuollo said.

College officials began distributing fliers containing safety tips throughout the campus two weeks ago, said Tzoler Oukayan, the college’s student activities coordinator.

“We wanted to bring something visual so that it has an effect on them, so they see it, versus just talking about it,” she said.

Motorists who text while driving typically take their eyes off the road for five seconds, police said. In that time, a motorist who is driving 55 mph can travel the length of a football field.

Glendale police volunteers handed out fliers with safety tips and traffic facts to students as they made their way to class.

The Police Department stepped up its traffic enforcement and safety education late last year after receiving the first-ever state grant designed to decrease the number of distracted drivers.

City and police officials also launched “Driven 2 Distraction,” a public-education campaign aimed at warning motorists about the effects of talking or texting on a cell phone, reading a book, eating or applying makeup.

“Maybe it doesn’t resonate right now, right today, but as they are driving, we want them to remember ‘Put my cell phone down,’” Montecuollo said.


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