Reality Rides simulator tour rolls into Baton Rouge to put the breaks on distracted driving

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A ride simulator traveling across the country will make a stop in Baton Rouge to help eliminate distracted driving.

Reality Rides simulator tour will make a stop at Southern University to emphasize the dangers of distracted driving in Baton Rouge.

The Reality Rides simulator is traveling across the U.S. and Canada to demonstrate the importance of avoiding distractions behind the wheel. The tour's message is especially important, as safety experts estimate more than 40,000 people died in car crashes in the U.S. in 2016, making it potentially the deadliest year on America's roads since 2007 and a new study reports that more than half of all crashes are caused by phone-related distractions.

According to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, 192 people were killed in Louisiana from 2011 to 2015 because of some distraction. Officials added nearly 27,000 others were injured.

Last week, the commission said distracted driving is becoming a "dangerous epidemic" in the state and will only get better when those behind the wheel modify their behaviors.

The Reality Rides simulator is a stationary vehicle with a virtual reality curved LED screen across the windshield, displaying animated scenarios drivers often encounter. Using the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, operators try to navigate those situations while also attempting to text message, answer phone calls or use in-car technology like GPS.

Afterward, participants receive "traffic citations" that highlight real infractions they've committed.

Along with the simulator, this year Reality Rides offers new features and enhanced technology, including touch-screen monitors that display distracted-driving facts and allow participants to take selfies to share on social media as GIFs.

Also for the first time, Reality Rides will feature a virtual pledge wall displaying participants' photos, as a demonstration of their support for Allstate's X the TXT movement in which drivers pledge to not text behind the wheel. Participants may pledge to X the TXT at Reality Rides events, or by liking the X the TXT Facebook page.

The ride simulation event will take place at Southern University's Student Union on Wednesday, April 19 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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