Teens in Crashes — Inside Texas Libraries

Texas teens collided their vehicles into other cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. But fortunately these frightening events did not actually happen but were only images on a virtual reality game on a computer screen.

Participants were given the eye-opening experience through the national “It Can Wait” campaign to teach them the dangers of distracted driving.

Visitors of all ages participated in the virtual video game which consists of special goggles and a wheel shaped joystick. The video takes the participant on a realistic-looking ride along winding roads, and puts joggers, bicyclists and children in the path of the virtual car. Eventually the distractions result in an inevitable car crash.

The video game should be required before driver’s licenses are issued.

Why? In Texas, there are over 100,000 crashes caused by distracted driving each year. The number grows exponentially each year.

As a 15 year-old participant told the Star-Telegram: “I’ve seen people text and drive, and they do it so nonchalantly. It really put things into perspective.”

This was exactly the reaction we all  had hoped for.  One parent said that “to take a call could end your life. It’s just not worth it.”

Another way to curb the distracted driving epidemic

This should also be required: Driver Mode apps that  silence incoming texts and phone calls, so there is no temptation to look. When you drive more than 15 mph, the app automatically kicks in and sends an auto reply to inform the sender that you are driving.

The Safely Go App accepts your calls and text messages while you are driving.

An AT&T representative also relayed her own harrowing real life experience. While driving on Loop 820, she saw a car barreling down on her through her rear-view mirror. At the last minute, the vehicle swerved and fell over the guardrail, narrowly missing AT&T workers, but killing the driver.  Yes, the driver was texting.

I am representing a woman who was rear ended by a teenager who was filming and uploading a video to his Facebook account — while driving at 65 miles per hour. I hear this excuse all the time from negligent drivers: “I never saw even him.” All personal injury lawyers have similar stories to tell.

The Texting and Driving Simulator is touring the country to give kids and adults nationwide an opportunity to experience the risks of distracted driving.

The It Can Wait site has other great educational material and interactive anti-texting tools. You can download a distracted driving simulator on your phone. The It Can Wait Virtual Reality App allows the user to experience the consequences of distracted driving, in simpler version of the Texting and Driving Simulator that is touring the country.

The Take the Pledge program has gathered more than nine million pledges. The program asks people to pledge “to keep your eyes on the road, not your phone.”

Berenson Injury Law has repeatedly advocated against texting while driving. I encourage parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of distracted driving and to use these tools to really grab their attention. And as parents, we need to be good role models for our kids by putting the phone away whenever we get behind the wheel.

It can wait.

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