Southern University students experience dangers of smartphone use while driving

Distracted driving virtual reality at Southern University

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On Friday, students at Southern University got the chance to experience the impact of distracted driving.

The National Safety Council estimates cell phone use causes 1.6 million crashes per year. Because of that, AT&T has been touring the country with its virtual reality pod to show students the dangers of smartphone distracted driving.

You see it on the road all the time, and perhaps you have been guilty of it. Cell phones have put the world in the palm of your hand. Add the influence of social media, and it can be even harder to ignore. The consequences can be life changing.

Southern University freshman, Alexia Dabney, says she doesn’t text behind the wheel, but she admits the radio sometimes gets her attention. “Probably like when I turn the music,” Dabney said.

AT&T is giving students like Dabney a chance to see what really happens when they take their eyes off the road. The 3-minute virtual reality experience puts students in the driver’s seat. AT&T Field Manager Kylie Sherlock explains the scenario they’re experiencing in the virtual reality headset. “You’re behind the wheel of the car, driving around the city, and your phone will go off and cause a distraction. Then you get a notification. When you look down at it, a crash happens in front of you,” Sherlock said.

(Source: WAFB)
(Source: WAFB)

The simulation also includes testimonials from people who have been impacted by distracted driving. After watching the video, participants are asked to pledge to avoid all distractions while driving. AT&T has been campaigning #ItCanWait across the country since 2010. Sherlock says more than 23 million drivers have taken the pledge. Dozens of students at Southern joined them.

Dabney says the next time she hears a song that is not her jam, she’s going to change her tune. “I’m going to just leave it on there. I’m going to dance and do what I got to do, but yeah,” Dabney said.

AT&T also presented a check for $10,000 Southern University for STEM studies.

(Source: WAFB)

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