Northern Suburbs News

Simulator shows texting while driving dangers

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Parents can talk with their teenage kids until their blue in the face about the dangers of texting and driving.

But, put the kids in a life-like situation, trying to drive while texting, and the message hits home.

Students tried it out Tuesday using a simulator at a Connecticut high school.

It's a big day for Brooke Maclean; Tuesday morning she passed her road test.

Tuesday afternoon, she crashed twice.

Thankfully the accidents were only while driving a simulator, meant to highlight the dangers of distracted driving, especially texting while driving.

"It really opened my eyes," Maclean said.

This week students at Ludlowe High School in Fairfield are getting a course in what's been dubbed "Distractology 101".

The $1.4 million simulator runs through six scenarios under different driving conditions.

It was created by a University of Massachusetts professor for the Arbella Insurance Group.

"If we can get it in their heads then they won't become a statistic," said Joanne Berlinski, of the Arbella Insurance Group.

The statistics are alarming: in 2009 20% of all crashes were related to distracted driving, resulting in 5,500 fatalities and a half million people injured.

The exercise seems simple: Students have to read and reply to a text that's been sent to them.

Pulling it off isn't as easy.

Hopefully, it's a nip a growing epidemic in the bud.

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