Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

September 20, 2013

The texting can wait

VSU simulates dangers of texting and driving

VALDOSTA — Texting while driving has become a major issue across the nation for all ages. College students, however, are among those most likely to text and drive. To combat this trend, Valdosta State University held a texting and driving simulation to show students just how dangerous it can be.

The simulation, which was organized by VSU's Office of Health Promotions, was held on Thursday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on the Pedestrian Mall in front of Odom Library. There were two tents set up, one with a car and simulation gear, the other with information for the students to take with them.

Texting and driving causes 1,600,000 accidents per year, according to the National Safety Council, and is the cause of nearly one fourth of all car accidents. That startling number is one of the reasons why VSU decided to hold this simulation.

Since students often believe that they are safe while driving and texting, the simulation situation set up by VSU on Thursday was proof to many students that this was not the case. Students sat in the driver’s seat of the car while wearing simulation goggles. The goggles, similar to a video game, simulated driving situations for the students to go through. The students were instructed to send a text while "driving" and the simulator would take stats. The stats showed how many cones the students hit, how many times they ran off the road, how many people they hit and how many times they surpassed the speed limit.

Holly Wright, Assistant Director in Health Promotions, said of the simulation, "At VSU, academics are number one, but there are a lot of other things students need to be educated on. We try to do a lot of prevention education. We saw that this was being done and decided that we should do this to educate the students. We have had a great response."  

Students lined up in front of the car waiting for their turn to give the simulator a try, but several others passed by without trying. Wright explained, "Several students are afraid to do it because they are afraid of what they will hit. Others are really surprised by just how much they hit or make mistakes, despite thinking they are good at texting and driving."

At the education booth, students were given pamphlets of statistics and information on texting and driving. They were also encouraged to sign pledge forms saying that they would not text and drive anymore. These forms were titled "Blazers Against Distracted Driving."

"It only takes a few seconds to wreck when you are distracted while driving. The statistics are skyrocketing nationally. We are just hoping to bring awareness to our students about texting and driving," concluded Wright.

To learn more about VSU's Office of Health Promotions or about the dangers of texting and driving, please contact Holly Wright at (229) 245-3896 or hhwright@valdosta.edu.

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