Simulation spreads safety awareness of texting and driving
UH had an opportunity to learn about safety as students took the wheel of a distracted driving simulator brought to campus on Friday at Lynn Eusan Park.
The event was part of the “Talk. Text. Crash.” campaign, a joint effort between Nationwide Insurance and the Texas Department of Transportation that is focused on reducing the number of accidents that occurs from distracted driving. The UH Department of Public Safety worked closely with the campaign to help spread awareness here on campus.
“We wanted to come out and let students know the dangers,” said Deidrea Samuels, a public information officer with TxDOT. “We want students to know that your life is more important than updating a status on Facebook. It’s much safer to wait until you aren’t driving.”
Many of the students who attended found the simulator changed their perspective on texting and driving.
“We’ve had 50 to 100 people show up today so far. Once we ask them about their experience with the simulator and the information we have here, many of them say they won’t text or update statuses anymore. That means we’ve done our job.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the percentage of accident fatalities that stem from driver distraction increased from 10 to 16 percent between 2005 and 2009.
A study from TxDOT reported that nearly one in four crashes are associated with distracted driving.
To help give people a more tangible idea of just how seriously distractions can impede one’s driving ability, the simulator puts drivers in the seat of a Nascar vehicle and tasks them with completing several laps around the track. To bring the point home, drivers are then told to text to a cell phone belonging to one of the officials supervising the event while they try to complete their laps.
Business finance sophomore Jullian Harvey was adventurous enough to give the simulator a shot.
“I know people who’ve gotten into accidents because of texting. It was much more difficult to drive than I thought it would be. But still, I thought it was a fun game,” Harvey said.
Abdul Alhanawi, a biology sophomore, was also waiting in line to try out the simulator during the event. He said that many students take unnecessary risks by texting behind the wheel.
“I see people looking down while driving all the time. There’s some crazy people driving,” said Alhanawi. “A lot of people abuse it.”