Siouxland teens get "crash course" on distracted driving - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Siouxland teens get "crash course" on distracted driving

Students took a 45 second virtual reality course to learn the dangers of distracted driving. Students took a 45 second virtual reality course to learn the dangers of distracted driving.

It's a problem on the road in every part of the country: Distracted driving.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,300 people were killed in crashes that involved a distracted driver that year. That's why some Siouxland teens are learning how to keep their focus on the road.

It's a real life lesson, in a real life car, through a virtual reality simulator. A pair of goggles puts these students on a 45 second course filled with real life driving situations.

You kind of see the road and the steering wheel's pretty sensitive, but you've got to stay on your side of the road, and then you have oncoming traffic as well," said Tanner Van Wyk, a junior at Sergeant Bluff-Luton. "It's pretty tough to maneuver the car."

Then, add some distractions from an instructor, informing you of a text message.

"You look down and you get disoriented and stuff. So, it was pretty realistic," said Jill Walker, a sophomore.

The lesson learned: A car traveling 60 miles per hour will cover nearly the length of a basketball court every second. So, a five second glance at a text means hundreds of feet of blind driving.

"Like a country road. Supposed to try to pass some trucks and ended up sideswiping it and hitting it," said Walker.

"I was actually kind of scared, because I don't usually text and drive," said Joanna Widjaja, a sophomore.

It's a lesson authorities want these students to learn: Put the phone away until you reach your destination.

"We're teaching these young drivers, that when they're in the beginning of their driving careers that they want to establish those good habits, that will carry them on through their lives," said Trooper John Farley of the Iowa State Patrol.

The group PEER Awareness from Grand Rapids, Mich., travels the country with the simulator to share the lesson with hundreds of students.

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