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Simulators offer crash-course in distracted driving

There is no doubt that driving while texting, emailing or making a phone call is distracting. In fact, drivers in the state of Georgia can be ticketed for texting and increasingly, states are passing laws that prohibit any use of a hand-held phone while driving.

Still, unfortunately, drivers are risking their safety and the safety of other motorists by using their phone behind the wheel. Despite years of marketing, educational and law enforcement efforts to reinforce the fact that distracted driving can be deadly, people still think they can glance at their email inbox or read a text while driving. In too many cases, people don't see the error of their ways until it is too late.

One insurance company is continuing their efforts to put a stop to distracted driving and avoid the human toll of actual distracted driving accidents.

A distracted driving simulation machine will be traveling around the country this month to give people life-like experiences of how distraction affects their driving abilities. The simulator is a real car that participants sit in and "drive," though the car remains stationary. The vehicle is equipped with sophisticated virtual reality technology that makes it feel as though a person is actually driving, and the display responds accordingly.

While in the simulator, drivers are told they can text and use their phone. After the simulation ends, the drivers are given fake citations for every mistake they made while distracted behind the wheel.

Of course these types of efforts will not change the minds or behaviors of every driver; according to reports only 60 percent of participants in the simulation said they would never text and driver. Many people would hope that that number would have been much higher.

However, the intention of these efforts is to make a lasting impression on at least some drivers who will be able to avoid accidents and stay safer because they are focused on the road. One distracted driver is too many, but one less distracted driver can save a person's life.

Source: Carrier Management, "Allstate Tries to Educate Drivers With Reality Rides Simulator," April 8, 2015

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