Simulator shows students the dangers of texting and driving

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) - As students get ready to head back to classes, law enforcement and school officials want everyone to keep back-to-school tech safety in mind. 

That includes reminders that texting and driving do not mix, a message that technology companies and law enforcement have been trying to drive home for a long time. Now, a driving simulator that looks like a fun game is actually teaching a serious lesson.

“They will soon learn that they can’t do both— text and drive,” said Teresa Mask, a spokesperson for AT&T.

The computer simulation puts drivers through several different scenarios.

“You may get into a car accident or a police may pull you over or you may run through a red light,” said Mask.  “Things that people do on a daily basis when they’re distracted while they’re driving."

On Friday, AT&T teamed up with the Ann Arbor and University of Michigan police departments to help students learn that in a painless way.

“I crashed two times on the simulator,” said Emily Cullinan. “It was within, like, ten seconds,” she added.  “I couldn’t even text back.”

The simulator was set up to demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving. 

Officer Voug Martelle with the Ann Arbor Police Department said that with all of the built-in distractions involved with driving— checking mirrors, adjusting the air conditioner or changing radio stations— responding to a text message can be deadly.

“Adding texting to the equation is just a dangerous, dangerous recipe for disaster,” said Martelle.

“It’s really, really dangerous,” said Amber Allmen, who also tried the simulator. “When my husband does it (texting while driving), I tell him ‘don’t do it!” she added.

“When you’re driving a car, you drive the car and you don’t let the peripheral things like phone calls, and things like that, distract you from your primary concern which is what’s going on on the road around you,” said Officer Martelle.

If she did not understand that before, Emily Cullinan. certainly understands it now.

“That’s just a simulator,” said Cullinan. “Imagine real life,” she added.  “There’s way more cars and way more things to pay attention to.”

She considers it a lesson learned.

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