Teens get virtual lesson in dangers of texting and driving

Posted at 4:56 PM, May 24, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - With the help of virtual reality, some Utah teens got a hands-on lesson of how deadly texting while driving can be.

With the help of AT&T and the It Can Wait program, students at West High School got a chance to ride inside a real car equipped with a virtual reality computer system that simulates driving in the real world. The virtual trips let them see the dangers of texting while driving.

"The students walk in and put on a set of goggles that shows them a typical driving situation and they can step on the gas or brake, turn the steering wheel and it will be like a real live driving situation," said Jason Olson, director of external affairs for AT&T. "You have pedistrians, traffic, dogs running out in front of your cars and they can learn the dangers of looking away from the road, even for a split second to look at your phone."

Students say the simulation was a real eye-opener and a lesson they won't forget.

"I never really realized how much attention you have to pay to the road, and then when you text how much attention it takes away," said Xochitl Gonzalez. "It's a lot more difficult than it seems."

One text message takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 miles  an hour, that's like driving the length of a football field completely blind.