VR Texting and Driving Simulator Shows Dangers
The It Can Wait Texting and Driving Simulator is changing the minds of thousands of drivers who use their phone to read and write while driving. The awareness initiative is directed by wireless telecommunications provider AT&T, making the experience fairly convincing. AT&T has a driving simulator that they are showcasing at universities and high schools across the nation. Participants sit down on a bench with a steering wheel and foot pedals and dawn a headset to become immersed in a realistic and frightening experience. According to Distraction.gov, 3,100 lives are lost each year due to distracted driving. Distracted drivers are generally sober, well-intentioned drivers who commit a costly error when they decide to pay attention to their phone instead of the road.
There are a lot more drivers on the road who send and receive text messages or Facebook posts while driving than there are who drink alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car. There are less drunk drivers because there are more phone users than there are alcohol consumers, and while there has been lots of education about drinking and driving, not too much is taught about the tragedies that occur when someone decides to send a quick message or post a cute quip. On the road, reaction time is the underlying factor in avoiding accidents. Someone who takes their eyes off the road for just a few seconds waives the possibility of reacting at all in a hazardous situation. A few seconds while traveling at 55 miles per hour equals a hundred yards of countless possibilities.
The driving simulator encourages participants to actually respond to text messages and Facebook posts while trying to be safe from behind the wheel. There are highway scenarios, residential neighborhoods and business districts for the drivers to navigate through, providing realistic driving scenarios that anyone faces every single day. On the highway, drivers quickly find themselves smashing into other cars or careening off the road into ditches or trees. In a residential neighborhood, cars back out of driveways. In the city, unexpected red lights cause collisions, and parents walking their children are run over on the sidewalk. What drives the message home is that there are real life examples of these tragedies happening every day. However in real life there are no restarts.
Although the intention to harm is not there, distracted driving is not often an accident. Drivers make a conscious decision to take their eyes off the road for even a small amount of time and find themselves with facing some heavy consequences. Operating a car and operating a cell phone are two different responsibilities, but while operating a car, a driver is in control of thousands of pounds of bone crushing responsibility. Ignoring the road is taking a chance with the lives of others, so It Can Wait is making an important contribution to helping us to think before we decide to check the phone for one more update.
The decisions we have been making to text and drive have been the wrong decisions. Thousands perish each year and tens of thousands of lives are injured for the rest of their lives because of it. Everyone involved wishes that they would have made the decision to wait to respond before it was too late. There is no going back, so the only thing left to do is to teach others how to avoid making the same mistakes.