Simulator Demonstrates Texting and Driving Dangers

By Brad Maxwell, Reporter

Tools

By Ellen Kurt

CEDAR RAPIDS - Students at Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School put their ability to text while driving to the test - virtually, that is.

AT&T brought its virtual reality driving simulator to campus Friday as part of the company’s national campaign, Texting & Driving ... It Can Wait. The effort aims to reduce the number of teenagers who text and drive by providing a realistic simulation of distracted driving. The cellphone provider said texting is the most popular form of communication for teens, as most average 60 texts a day.

Courtney Willis, a senior at Jefferson High School, said she struggled to drive safely in the simulator.

“I did not do very well,” Willis said, “I hit somebody. I was texting and driving and crossed over the line just a little bit.”

Many students faced similar difficulties trying to focus on their phones and the road. They said it was a situation that is all too real.

“I have friends who text while driving, and they’ve gotten tickets and [in] accidents for it,” Taylor Blake, junior, said.

The National Safety Council says texting-and-driving-related crashes hurt or kill 100,000 people every year.

Driving instructors say the problem shows no signs of slowing down in today’s tech-driven society.

The AT&T campaign aims to eliminate these issues, asking students to pledge never to text and drive, but instructors say tackling this issue may require a more realistic approach.

“I think it’s becoming more and more of a problem,” driving instructor Chris Rowles said. “And a big reason I think is because of the prevalence of cellphones and smartphones and things of that nature.”

In addition to the simulator, AT&T has created a resource center for parents at teachers at www.itcanwait.com, as well as designing a free mobile app called AT&T DriveMode to help curb texting behind the wheel.

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