The University of Miami wanted to drive home an important point to its students: texting and driving is not worth the risk.
As part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, UM and AT&T brought to campus a simulator that resembles an arcade driving game Tuesday to show students the dangers of texting while driving.
Students who stopped by the University Center patio sat in front of the simulator’s large screen and tried to drive while sending text messages from their phones. The simulator showed what could happen if a driver is distracted for too long — hitting pedestrians, running red lights or rear-ending other cars.
In mid-September, the university police force hosted its third annual Safety Fair, also with a focus on distracted driving.
“We want this to be an ongoing campaign,” said John Anthony Gulla, crime-prevention officer at UM. “Distracted driving has become such a pervasive issue.”
Gulla hopes the simulator will make students think twice about texting while driving.
“These simulators are really immersive,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting students involved with it.”
Distracted driving — texting, talking on the phone, eating or applying makeup behind the wheel of a car — endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the United States each year.
Texting while driving is the worst distraction because it requires drivers to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel and their minds away from their surroundings, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2012, more than 3,000 people died and about 420,000 were injured in the United States in car crashes that involved a distracted driver, the traffic safety agency said.