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It Can Wait – Distracted Teen Driving Program Comes to O’Dowd

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Program on the Dangers of Distracted & Reckless Driving Comes to O’Dowd

Sophia Bucheli was shaken to the core when her son Alec Abdul-Rahim ’18 was in a serious car crash in 2016 due to distracted driving. The circumstances leading to his crash sadly are too common: night driving, windy road, driving too fast, inexperienced driver, and just changing the song on a smartphone. According to the first responders, given the impact it was a miracle that Alec was alive and just had cuts on his hands.

Bucheli redirected her trauma in the aftermath of the crash to educate others that the #1 leading cause of teen deaths is distracted and reckless driving. More importantly, these deaths are 100% preventable. As a member of the Dragon Parents Group board, she partnered with the O’Dowd Partners in Parenting program to sponsor Distracted Driving Day on campus on February 21. The event was held in conjunction with Impact Teen Drivers (ITD), the California Highway Patrol and AT&T. It was a day full of activity.

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In the morning, all students participated in a school assembly led by representatives from Impact Teen Drivers and the CHP. The interactive presentation showed the consequences and facts about reckless and distracted driving through video and dialogue by people affected first hand. Additionally, it encouraged teens to take the lead in peer-to-peer messaging.

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The ITD representative shared of an opportunity for students to produce and showcase socially conscious art, to earn educational grants for both students and schools, and to create real impact. He encouraged students to submit artwork to its Create Real Impact contest. The artwork must address the issue of reckless and distracted driving in a creative and compelling way, as well as meet criteria based on its format. Get contest details.

To drive home the message, AT&T brought its virtual reality simulator to O’Dowd, allowing students to experience firsthand how dangerous it can be when you allow yourself to become distracted by your smartphone while behind the wheel. AT&T kicked off it’s “It Can Wait” tour at O’Dowd, and our school was the first in a series of more than 50 stops across California this year to help raise awareness about distracted driving and encourage everyone to keep their eyes on the road – not on their phone. Watch KTVU coverage of the event and simulator experience.

“The assembly and virtual reality experience were definitely very important for this community. I know I have been in situations, both behind the wheel and in the passenger seat, that could have led to tragic events like the ones described or shown. So I am definitely grateful for the education AT&T and O’Dowd are providing here,” Associated Student Body President Will Hungtington ’17 said.

“O’Dowd continually seeks to provide opportunities that encourage students’ health and wellness. With distracted driving being the leading cause of teen fatalities today, this program communicates a life-saving important message about being a safe, responsible driver,” faculty member Mark Lederer said. A marriage and family therapist intern, Lederer heads O’Dowd’s Partners in Parenting Program.

That evening, parents were invited to join in a workshop that covered similar material. Representatives from ITD and the CHP led the informative and interactive workshop about the dangers of distracted and reckless driving, as well as explained the Graduated Drivers Licensing laws. We encourage you to ask your child about the material discussed at the assembly and start a dialogue.

Parent Andrew Danish said the parent workshop was very powerful. “Starting with Sophia’s very personal introduction revealing her firsthand experience and motivation for the evening and ending up with the mother of an actual reckless driving victim. The emotional impact was palpable,” he said. “Putting a name and a real face on not just these victims but those in the driver’s seat illustrates the lasting effect that reckless driving has on so many people.”


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