EUGENE, Ore. -- Distracted driving continues to be the No. 1 cause for car collisions in the U.S. according to Allstate Insurance, and to get the word out the company hosted a text-while-driving simulation at Willamette High School on Monday.
“So these guys are experiencing that today, for real - without the consequences,” said local Allstate agent April Pastel at the high school on Monday as dozens of freshmen stood in line to test the simulator.
Allstate brought the Reality RidesSM simulator - a real car set up with video equipment and a virtual headset - to Eugene as part of its tour of more than 20 U.S. cities.
“It teaches kids the importance of not texting and driving, or calling and driving - just being distracted,” said Willamette High School freshman Hannah Maul just after trying out the simulator in between classes.
During the simulation, the students were given a smart phone and asked to text answers to questions while driving - the vehicle’s drive path mapped out in real time on a digital screen much like the video games of today.
The car doesn’t actually move during the simulation, but students turned the wheel and pushed on the gas and brake pedals to make the simulation go.
“I got caught for texting, speeding, swerving, driving on the incorrect side of the road, driving off the road and failing to stop,” said another freshman after trying out the simulator.
An Allstate simulation specialist stood by and scored each student as they tested out the system.
One by one, the freshmen failed the driving test - smashing, crashing, speeding and even hitting pedestrians in a virtual world.
But Pastel said the point of the simulation is for the students to fail in order to send a message about texting while driving.
“Don’t text and drive,” said freshman Matthew Morgan, “you might hit someone.”
An Allstate spokeswoman said the the Reality RidesSM simulator is headed for the Seattle and Spokane areas next.