A new driving simulator called “Drive Smart Virginia” hopes to show youth the effects of texting while driving. Since it’s only a simulator, the program will show teens the repercussions of texting while driving without having to face any of the consequences.
“I was texting my friend Morgan saying ‘Hey’ and I killed a guy,” said Highschool freshman Ericka Lester after she experienced the simulator.
Texting isn’t the only way to get distracted while driving. Eating, drinking, talking, grooming, as well as using a mobile device for anything–to update social media, check emails, or read sports scores–can increase a driver’s chance of getting into an accident. However, since texting is the one activity that can take a driver’s eyes off the road for the longest time, it’s the most dangerous way to be distracted, increasing the risk of getting into an accident by 23 times.
Driving and texting is problematic for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s incredible prevalent. Not only does texting cause 80% of all accidents in Virginia, but at any one time during the day in the United States, there are about 660,000 people using electronic devices while they drive.
Secondly, texting while driving is logistically dangerous, too. The minimal amount of time to be distracted while texting is five seconds. If the vehicle is traveling at 55 miles per hour, then the driver effectively drove the length of a football field without paying attention to the road.
Ernie Atwell, the resource officer with the Smyth Country Sheriff’s Office, said that “You can give all the lectures you want, but it’s much better when the sit in the vehicle in a controlled environment and see the dangers of it.”
The program also helps the message sink in by allowing the simulator user’s friends to watch on a monitor. Highschool junior Molly Doss said, “This is an awesome thing. It shows a lot of awareness. I think it really works. I made the pledge and I definitely don’t plan on texting and driving.”
“Driver safety programs for teenagers are worth the time and investment. Driver safety courses should not be a substitute for the instruction you provide to your children,” explains Robert Stone, personal injury attorney at Robert Stone Law Office LLC. “Rather, the courses should supplement what the teenagers learn from you. Driver safety courses are often very helpful to teenagers for a number of reasons. First, the teenagers do not learn our bad habits. Second, driver safety programs are often in touch with many of the common mistakes made by teenagers; many of which we as parents fail to recognize. At the end of the day, the goal is to put your son or daughter in the safest position possible. Driver safety programs serve as one additional tool to help meet this goal.”