Student participating in distracted driving simulation

Program lets Holyoke High School students participate in a simulated driving experience

The Dowd Insurance Agencies, a leading insurance provider serving New England for more than 118 years, is proud to bring the newly relaunched Distractology® tour to Holyoke High School Tuesday, May 30 – Friday, June 2. Developed and funded by the Arbella Insurance Foundation, Distractology was one of the first programs in the country to address distracted driving with young, inexperienced drivers. The campaign features a 36-foot-long mobile classroom outfitted with two high-tech driving simulators designed to give new drivers the chance to experience the perils of distracted driving, including texting while driving. Drivers who have completed Distractology are proven to be 19 percent less likely to have an accident and 25 percent less likely to get traffic violations*.

Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the United States. A 2015 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distraction was a factor in nearly six out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. What’s more, 40 percent of teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cellphone in a way that put people in danger. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.

“While public awareness of distracted driving has increased in recent years, the number of distractions drivers must navigate behind the wheel are greater than ever before,” said John Donohue, chairman, president and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group and chairman of the Arbella Insurance Foundation. “Young, inexperienced drivers are especially prone to partake in this dangerous behavior, which is why we’re committed to giving students a firsthand look at the devastating consequences of driving while distracted, whether it be changing the radio station or texting a friend.”

To date, more than 12,000 new drivers, meaning those that have been licensed less than three years or have a learner’s permit, have completed the Distractology training. During the driving simulations, teens and other new drivers face a number of updated scenarios based on real-world examples, related to smartphones, the radio, and food and drink, in residential and highway conditions. Distractology also features striking new graphics inside and out of drivers whose heads have morphed into the distractions that consume them. The images illustrate the way distractions, like phones, food and drink, and the radio, can take full control of drivers’ minds, diverting their attention from the road. The images reflect the new tagline: “Don’t let distractions take over.” Ninety-six percent of students who participated in the program would recommend it to their friends – a strong indication of the impact Distractology is having on local drivers.

“We realize the importance of training our youth on distracted driving. With summer approaching, Arbella and Dowd are very happy to host this very important training tool to Holyoke, said Dowd Executive VP and Treasurer, David Griffin. “The prevention of senseless accidents is certainly an issue we all support. We thank Arbella for their continued commitment to this serious issue.”

The Distractology curriculum and simulator are based on Arbella Insurance Foundation-funded research conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst). Distractology, will travel to various communities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island during the 2016-2017 school year, offering 45 minutes of simulated distracted driving to each participant. Fully funded by the Arbella Insurance Foundation, Distractology is free to eligible drivers.

About the Arbella Insurance Group and the Arbella Insurance Foundation

Established in 1988, the Arbella Insurance Group ( is a company with more than $800M in revenue with approximately $1.5B in assets, headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts. Arbella is a customer-focused regional property and casualty insurance company, providing personal and business insurance in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and business insurance in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Arbella Insurance Group founded the Arbella Insurance Foundation in 2004. The mission of Arbella’s Foundation is to engage in activities and to support not-for-profit organizations that have a significant positive impact on the people and communities served by Arbella.

* Results are based upon data obtained from Arbella Mutual Insurance Company’s youthful operators who took the Distractology training when compared to those who did not from 2010 through 2014.