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Distracted driving is not safe, even if the virtual world

We have previously written about the dangers of distracted driving, as well as the problem that too many drivers don't seem to understand just how dangerous it is. It is often said that experience is the best teacher. But for something like distracted driving, the lesson learned from experience could be fatal.

Therefore, the challenge becomes helping drivers (especially teens) to fully understand the dangers of texting and cellphone use while not actually putting them in harm's way. The answer to this problem: Virtual reality.

As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, the insurance company Allstate took its "Reality Rides" simulator on a national tour for the third year in a row. According to the company, the simulator is real car that is modified and remains stationary. Instead of looking through the real windshield, drivers look at a screen with a "responsive animated environment" on it. This means that everything they do with the steering wheel and pedals will translate into simulated motion.

When drivers attempt to text and drive and engage in other distracting behaviors, they quickly learn that doing so is dangerous both physically and legally. They are even given fake traffic citations similar to ones they might receive in the real world.

After trying out the simulation, Allstate says, that majority of drivers surveyed expressed changing attitudes about distracted driving. In general, drivers said they were less likely to drive distracted and less likely to ride with distracted drivers.

It's unclear which safety messages will be the most effective and will reach the most drivers. But for this and many other reasons, we must continue to send strong messages about the dangers of distracted driving.

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

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