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Texting and Driving


Texting and Driving

Shannon Allen

Last Monday the 18th of February, Roanoke College students got the chance to see what it was like to text and drive without any real-world consequences. A simulator sponsored by AT&T was on campus all afternoon so that students could attempt the dangerous feat. The simulator included a stationary car as well as a headset with eyepieces that projected a virtual road. While driving around a residential area complete with stop signs and other obstacles, participants were asked to text the phrase, “I will not text and drive.” repeatedly until the simulated course was completed. After either crashing or completing the simulation, drivers were given their statistics on speeding, line changes, and obstacles hit.

Maggie Briggs-White, a freshman, who completed the course without crashing said, “I thought it was pretty easy. However, it wasn’t like I was really driving a vehicle, the headset threw me off as well as having to really mash down the gas pedal to accelerate”. Such a statement is reasonable seeing how most cars do not actually move and are immediately responsive to changes in pressure on the gas pedal. The simulation was a poor representation of what driving a car is actually like. With a very narrow road and very pixelated graphics the simulation was more like a video came from the early 2000’s. Challenges of the course included dogs that ran out in the street in split seconds and joggers hogging the roads. Challenges in real life were that drivers were told that they had to look straight forward at all times and that they could not tilt their head downward to look at their phone. The headset restricted all vision including cell phones making it difficult to text while behind the wheel.

As most know, the issue of texting and driving has grown immensely over the last couple years with television ad campaigns as well as laws passed in many states that make texting and driving illegal. Virginia is included in this category. Smart phone apps have even been developed to cut stop texting while driving. The app senses the increase in speed when the car is moving and then turns off texting as a function after the phone reaches a certain speed. Over 5,000 people died from incidents relating to texting and driving in 2009 alone.