Virtual-reality ‘crashes’ teach Inland teens not to text while driving – Press Enterprise

Cell phones have become ubiquitous in today’s world.

People seemingly can’t go a couple minutes without staring at their device. When it pings, they react — and if that happens while driving, the results can be deadly.

That’s why AT&T is targeting teens with the “It Can Wait” safety campaign.

The effort came to Riverside days ago, when students at Norte Vista High School got an up-close look at the dangers of distracted driving.

AT&T representatives brought a virtual reality simulator that gave students a mock experience of crashing while texting.

A student tries out the virtual reality distracted driving simulator at Norte Vista High School in Riverside on Thursday, Nov. 9.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, youths donned goggles and headphones and went for a video “drive.” As a phone would chime, it would appear in front of the driver’s eyes. After a number of near misses, the distracted driver is involved in a fatal crash.

“It was pretty intense,” said Jacqueline Castellanos, a 17-year-old senior.

AT&T offers the free program around the country. So far, 21 million students have signed a pledge not to text and drive, said Julio Figueroa, the company’s director of external affairs in the region.

The simulator will be making stops at about 50 schools and community centers in California this year. Next week it comes to Victor Valley High School and Chaffey High School in Ontario. It’s already been to Kaiser High in Fontana and Riverside’s King High.

Students lined up during Norte Vista’s two lunch periods, some sitting in a wooden replica of a car to use the 360-degree device.

“After going through the virtual reality thing I see that texting can take away someone’s life,” said senior Jacob Stafford, 17. “A little text can wait until you’re done driving.”

Senior Erik Aguilar, 17, who said he was in a crash involving a texting driver, said he learned his lesson.

“If you lose focus, anything can happen,” he said.


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