CHILHOWIE, Va. - Doing rather than just reading -- that's the idea behind "Drive Smart Virginia", a driving simulator that shows teens what can happen when you text and drive.
The program showed them all of the risk without the consequences when it comes to texting and driving. It was made possible by Drive Smart Virginia and their driving simulator that shows the kids just what can happen if you're distracting while driving.
"I was texting my friend Morgan saying "Hey" and I killed a guy," says freshman Ericka Lester after her turn at the wheel.
We learned when you text and drive, or even check you email or Facebook, you increase your chances of crashing by 23 times. "You can give all the lectures you want, but it's much better when the sit in the vehicle in a controlled environment and see the dangers of it," resource officer Ernie Atwell with the Smyth County Sheriff's Office said.
Add to the fact that their friends are watching on a monitor. "This is an awesome thing. It shows a lot of awareness. I think it really works, I made the pledge and I definitely don't plan on texting and driving," junior Molly Doss said.
But what about just talking on your cell phone? "Talking on the phone is just as bad as texting. You're still distracted. You may not realize it, but you are," senior Kimberly Helbert said.
If the simulator wasn't enough to drive home the point, try riding a three-wheeled bike and texting, another test for the young drivers.
The Drive Smart Virginia program was funded by State Farm Insurance in a effort to bring down the fact that teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than other divers. "It gives the kids an opportunity to get in a situation where they're simulating something they shouldn't be doing out on the highway. They see what the consequences are without the actual financial or emotional impact of causing an accident," Agent Cliff Burnette said.
And maybe saving their lives in the process.
We learned eight out of ten traffic crashes in Virginia relate to distracted drivers.
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