While drivers often hear about the serious consequences of driving while distracted, experiencing the effects first-hand often means tragedy, personal injury, and sorrow for everyone involved. Yet, AT&T has recently released a texting and driving simulator that teen drivers and others can download. The simulator offers individuals the firsthand experience of the serious consequences of texting and driving.
The “It Can Wait” simulator links up with a smartphone. Individuals “drive” on the simulator on their computers, while the simulator sends texts to the person’s smartphone. Then, when the “driver’s” attention is divided, the simulator puts obstacles in the driver’s way. According to the instructions provided on the simulator’s Website, drivers are warned: “You may be surprised by what can happen when your attention is divided between the road and your phone.”
In order to teach teens about the hazards of texting and driving in Idaho, the Statesman Journal recently reported that local high schools have partnered with local county Sheriff’s Offices, local Police Departments, and AT&T to bring the simulators to campus. The simulators let teens see firsthand the consequences of texting and driving in a safe and controlled way. New “virtual reality” devices have been developed to make the driving simulation more realistic. Teens are able to get into a small model car, allowing the experience to be more immersive.
Idaho law enforcement hope that the experience will encourage more teens to pledge not to text and drive. Officers who spoke to the Statesman Journal spoke about the many tragic accidents to which they have had to respond that could have been prevented had drivers kept their attention on the road.
As many as 87% of Idaho drivers engage in distracted driving and dangerous behaviors at least once in a given month. The consequences of these actions are serious. Over 30,000 people were killed in accidents in 2014 alone and the numbers are only projected to go higher. Research also indicates that regardless of your age, it is very difficult to resist the temptation to respond to a text message. In Boise and Nampa, Idaho, while it is legal to respond and read text messages when stopped or at a red light, it is illegal to do so while driving. Officers report that enforcing the law has been difficult. Parents also have a role to play. Setting a good example and avoiding cell phone use is often the best way to ensure that your teens will do the same. With so much at stake, it’s an example parents simply cannot afford not to set.
When teens get into accidents, parents could be held legally responsible for personal injuries that result. Individuals whose actions result in injuries may find themselves paying for another person’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Finally, if you’ve been a victim of distracted driving, it is important to know that you’re not alone. The law offers you important protections—including the right to seek compensation for injuries and medical expenses. The Law Office of Johnson & Lundgreen supports driving simulators that raise awareness. The hope is that more people—adults and teens alike—will take the pledge to end distracted driving.