The Norman Transcript

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November 13, 2013

Driving simulator teaches that texting while driving can wait

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Norman North Principal Bryan Young said he hoped students would acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving and make the pledge because, previously, Norman North students had been injured due to texting while driving.

The AT&T chair driving simulator is a computerized system that lets users virtually text and drive while providing a realistic but safe experience for drivers and teaching them the risks and dangers of texting and driving.

While using the simulator, students had to keep their eyes on the road and react to common driving challenges such as remaining within the speed limit, driving through construction areas, stopping at stoplights and avoiding other negligent drivers, all while reading and responding to text messages sent by their “mother” or “friends.”

Students had to answer texts such as “what do you want for dinner?”, “are you doing anything fun this weekend?” and “where are you?”

Many students swerved the vehicle between lanes, ran stoplights, stopped in the middle of the road, hit medians or parked cars, crashed the vehicle or were pulled over.

After testing the simulator, Norman North counselor Liz Barnes said she thought the program would be helpful to students.

“They need this. This generation is so attached to their cell phones,” Barnes said.

Freshmen Allison Garner, Emily Rowin and Paige Abdinor said they didn’t plan to text and drive, but all of their parents did.

Abdinor, who tried out the simulator, said she was surprised that it was a lot harder than she expected. Spears also said her mother texts and drives.

“My mom does it, but I feel like I can trust her,” Spears said.

Griffin Hagler, tour manager, said his team hears a lot of teens say their parents text and drive.

“In the last AT&T Commuter Survey, 49 percent of adult commuters admitted to texting while driving, but only 43 percent of teens admitted to texting while driving,” Griffin said. “So it’s really a problem across the board. However, we’ve found, though, that if asked, drivers said they would stop texting and driving.”

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