AT&T®, one of the best internet providers of the country, says that technology could offer a solution for adults and teens that are at risk of distracted driving. US Rep. Barbara Comstock recently visited the Park View High School to deliver a lecture at a distracted driving event that was sponsored by AT&T®. In the event, high school students tested a virtual reality simulation on the dangers of distracted driving.
“We know that the 100 days in the summer that they’re about to enter are the most dangerous time for new drivers and for teen drivers, so this is an education effort to make them aware about the dangers of texting and driving,” said Rep. Comstock. “We’ve done some of these programs before, but this is a real life simulator so that they can see the impact which we know is almost akin to drunk driving, or worse.”
High school students took turn to sit in a demo vehicle wearing a VR headset that allowed students to look in all directions to see the various aspects of it. They will be able to see road signs and landmarks flying near the window of the vehicle while the cell phone rings nonstop near the driver seat. When the virtual driver of the vehicle picks up the phone, a safety hazard appears just inches from the vehicle, including stopped vehicles and children crossing.
“I learned that even though sometimes texting and driving can kind of look harmless, at some points, if you’re just taking a glance, it can actually be super dangerous because of how many things can go on in such a little time,” said Tony Lampe, a Park View sophomore who tested the simulation. “I tried to play along by also looking at the screen if the person grabbed their phone, and then I looked up, and boom, a hazard’s right in front of you. And it was really eye-opening.”
AT&T® has been holding similar events right from 2010. They have visited about three hundred venues across the nation but this is the first Loudoun County event by the Telco giant. The main feature of these events, since 2015, has been virtual reality. AT&T® has also offered cardboard headset to the participants in the program so that they can experience the software even at home and share with friends.
“Some way, I’m going to get these things in our classroom,” said Scott Yurish, the driver education teacher and head of the physical education department at Park View. “I’m seeing such positive results with the faces, and with as soon as the kids sit down and open the boxes and start slapping their cell phones in, and downloading the apps.”