This July, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center welcomed 19 interns with one shared goal: to make Washington’s roads safer.
As part of the INSIGHT Research Program, the interns are spending four weeks working in groups to learn about distracted driving and craft original outreach campaigns to help Washington drivers make better choices behind the wheel. The PEMCO Safe Driving Campaign project, supported in part by PEMCO Insurance, will also seek to make drivers aware of a new state law that went into effect July 23 that bans handheld cell phone use by drivers.
The project is being overseen by HIPRC core faculty member Beth Ebel, M.D., who is the HIPRC section lead for Safe and Active Transport. Ebel’s research has helped doctors, lawmakers and the public better understand the risks of cell phone use while driving. One study found that texting impairs driving ability as much as driving at twice the legal blood alcohol level, and a 2014 study found that 8.2 percent of observed Washington drivers were using a cell phone behind the wheel.
In learning about distracted driving and developing a campaign, the interns will also learn about public health, medicine, academic research skills, communication and media. Their findings and campaigns will be presented at the INSIGHT Research Symposium on Aug. 4, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Research and Training Building of Harborview Medical Center.
The project is sponsored by PEMCO Insurance, a Northwest company that provides auto, home and boat insurance.