hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

July 25, 2013

Texting while driving?

In 5 seconds you'll travel 100 yards with your eyes off the road, students told

The Haverhill Gazette

---- — Do you know how long a distance you’re driving if you are texting for just five seconds, or taking your eyes off the road to read a text?

Gary Jaffarian, president of Jaffarian Toyota Volvo Scion of Haverhill, asked that question recently to students at three driver education programs in the Merrimack Valley. Only one student guessed it would be the entire length of a football field — 100 yards.

Jaffarian spoke to 90 students in three days from Andover Driving School, Methuen Driving School and Pickwick Driving Academy in Amesbury.

He quoted a survey where 46 percent of teenagers admitted to texting while driving, even though it is against the law.

“If you’re texting, you are 25 times more likely to be in an accident,’’ he said.

Jaffarian emphasized many of the dangers of driving to these teens who are eager to get their driver’s permit in the coming months. He also said a person’s driving record may affect his ability to get a job.

Jaffarian speaks at local driver education schools to provide an additional perspective of the importance of safe driving habits. He said he is committed to giving back to the local community and speaking to young drivers to complement what driving instructors, parents and police officers reinforce.

Jaffarian tells students that driving is a privilege that comes with great responsibility.

To make a point about the severe impact of crashes, Jaffarian asked the students how much a car weighs and to multiply that times the speed you are driving, and even at the speed limit, to imagine the impact of a crash in a 2,500-pound car traveling at 55 to 65 miles an hour.

“You have to have respect for the vehicle and respect for the road,’’ he told students.

Quoting from the latest statistics from the National Highway Safety Council and other sources, Jaffarian discussed the importance of wearing seat belts to avoid being ejected from a car during a crash.

He talked about the increase in accidents in young drivers directly proportionate to the number of people in the car.

“Don’t try to impress your friend or your girlfriend by driving fast,’’ he told students. “With one passenger in the car, your chance of an accident doubles, with three passengers in the car, your chance of an accident quadruples. In the 16 to 19 age category, fatal crashes are the number-one cause of death.’’

Jaffarian also talked to students about the cost of car insurance, the Massachusetts Lemon Law which protects car buyers, and the importance of doing their homework when shopping for a car.