Simulator Hopes to Put Brakes on Texting While Driving

Thursday, Aug 8, 2013  |  Updated 12:17 PM EDT
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Hundreds of students learned a valuable lesson Thursday about the dangers of texting while driving, and the day was not a good one for the virtual pedestrians and cars at Laurel High School.

Hundreds of students learned a valuable lesson Thursday about the dangers of texting while driving, and the day was not a good one for the virtual pedestrians and cars at Laurel High School.

Hundreds of students learned a valuable lesson Thursday about the dangers of texting while driving thanks to a driving simulator at Laurel High School.

Danielle Coker was behind the wheel of the driving simulator for just a few seconds before bad things started to happen to her.

"I crashed. I swerved. I think i killed someone," she said. "That's not good at all."

Officials hope experiences like this one will show  teens the dangers of distracted driving.

According to studies, sending or receiving a text message takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55mph, that's the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blind.

Student Rebbecca Olsen admits to doing it. News4's Megan McGrath talked to her before she got into the simulator.

"How hard do you think this is going to be?," McGrath asked.

Olsen answered, "Not that hard, honestly."

She had a very different take after she completed the simulator.

"Like there's cars on the other side of the road, and there's cars passing me. The pedestrian -- I didn't even see her -- and then boom she's smushed, and I'm in jail for 10 years."

Fortunately, Olsen's 10-year sentence isn't real. She had the chance to safely get the experience while attending Maryland's Student-Athlete Leadership Conference in Laurel. Organizers hope the lesson will save lives.

Things happen within a split second, and sometimes it's not even your fault. But if you're at least aware of what's going on around you,  you might have the chance to try and prevent something tragic from happening," said Ned Sparks, with the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA).

Nicholas Sala said he got the point.
 
"I've tried, but I couldn't do it. Guys aren't very good multitaskers, so I'm already at a disadvantage," Sala said.

Organizers hope the teens will pass the lesson they learned on to their friends.

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