Portland students flunk texting, driving simulator

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by PAT DOORIS / KGW

KING5.com

Posted on May 11, 2012 at 6:57 AM

PORTLAND -- At Central Catholic High School, students gathered on a patio outside to shout and laugh as their friends tried to drive and text using a simulator.

“Yellow, yellow! Person!" shouted Michaela Leeper.

Freshman Quincy Brown did not do well. “I hit a person driving at 45 miles per hour. Yah,” he said.

So did many of his friends.

Quincy doesn’t have his license yet but now that he feels the danger, he pledged to never text and drive.

“I just looked up, I saw the light turn, I slammed on the brakes and didn’t have the time," he said.

AT&T brought the car to Central Catholic as part of its nationwide campaign against texting and driving.

The problem is actually getting worse.

“Even in 2010, what the studies have shown is that texting and driving is up 50% year over year,” said Adam Grizybicki, President of AT&T External Affairs for Oregon and Alaska. “So it’s a growing problem."

In the simulator, the students are put on a computer-generated course that everyone outside can watch on monitors. The driver steers along the course for a moment and is then told to send a short text. Most crash mid text. “I ended up killing a dog. And I know its virtual but it made me feel awful!" said Cameron Ainslie, a senior.

That feeling delivers a message far better than any words of warning. “I have done it before. I, I have. And you know this makes me feel even worse about it and makes me realize that I shouldn’t and can’t do it anymore," she said. 

Much of the focus here is on educating teens. But some told me they need to educate their parents.

“Yeah, it's kinda scary,” said Ted Acton. “My dad, ah, my dad's texting and eating a hamburger and driving with his knees, so not the best example. Definitely going to have to change that," he said.

Michaela Leeper is like many seniors here who signed a big poster pledging to never text and drive. Then to be sure she remembered her commitment, she drove the simulator.

It did not go well. “I didn’t even get to the text!” she shouted to friends as she got out of the simulator. “I unlocked my phone and crashed!” she said. “Alright,” said a friend. “Well that's a good lesson for ya."

A good lesson for each of us.

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