Distracted driving program for teens comes to Longview

Posted: Saturday, March 29, 2014 4:00 am       

By Alex Byrd abyrd@news-journal.com
Longview News-Journal

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A vehicle simulator on Friday taught Longview students about the dangers of driving while texting and while under the influence of alcohol.

St. Mary’s Catholic School Principal Amy Allen and Kilgore College instructor Sheri Burlingame joined forces Friday to host UNITE International’s Arrive Alive tour, a national program that uses a vehicle simulator, videos and active participation to show the dangers of distracted driving.

“I used to text and drive until my friend did his senior year and died after hitting a tree,” UNITE associate Chris Bennet said. “Our whole community in Grand Rapids, Mich., has stood together since then against texting and driving.”

On Friday, students from Longview Christian, Pine Tree, Christian Heritage, St. Mary’s and a local Girl Scouts troop took a break from class to virtually drive a red Chevrolet Camaro, donated for the day by Peters automotive dealership founder Randy Peters.

Rear-end car wrecks are the most common accident that occurs while texting, Bennet said. An average text takes 5-10 seconds to type and if the driver is traveling 75 miles per hour, he or she is covering a quarter of a mile without looking, Bennet said.

At the event, an outside monitor and a television inside both showed a film of post-accident emergency room visits with bloody, brain injuries and broken bones. The other outside monitor showed repeated failed attempts by students to drive with high-tech intoxication lenses and cellphone use.

“I was in driver’s ed and they taught us the same thing about distractions while driving, so I’ve been scared of it ever since,” Longview Christian School student Maggie Hanley said after flinching. “I can’t watch that video, there’s too much blood.”

“Well, there’s a lot of blood when you text and drive,” Burlingame said outside.

Burlingame is the mother of two daughters, one of which is a 17-year-old driver.

“It’s a constant worry that she will text or be injured by someone texting or that’s drunk,” she said.

While standing in line for the simulator, Christian Heritage senior Colton Macdonald talked to a classmate about his August 2013 accident at H.G. Mosley Parkway and Fairmont Street. He was sober and was not texting, but his wreck resulted in one broken vertebrae and a concussion from four car flips.

“This experience today is a good reminder not to drink and drive and even if you don’t, you still need to be careful,” Macdonald said.

“You know what the difference between vehicular manslaughter is when you’re driving drunk or texting?” UNITE Arrive Alive Associate, Jake Azman asked students. “There isn’t one; you’re still going to jail.”

Other consequences of distracted driving for college-approaching students would be the difficulty of applying for federal loans and Pell Grants if charged with possession, DUI or operating under the influence, Azman added.

“Tell your friends not to drink and drive,” he said.

National Driving Safety Tour Visits UTPA


arrive-alive-cmyk-300x200Pharr native Ines Varela was texting and driving on campus March 3 when she crashed, with no injuries resulting. She was only driving a simulator, and was able to see the effects that distracted driving can have in a life-like scenario.

The simulation setup is part of the national Arrive Alive Tour, promoted by the health and wellness organization Unite International. The three-month tour has been visiting high schools and colleges for about two weeks. Students are allowed to experience the risk of texting and driving, or drunk driving, without being in a dangerous situation. Other Texas schools the tour has visited include Abilene Christian University and Houston St. Thomas University.

Unite is an organization that advocates all around wellness by visiting schools from elementary to colleges and holding events that include drivers’ education and bully prevention.

 Between the Wellness and Recreational Center and Student Health Services, members of Arrive Alive set up their test-drive station. The vehicle was placed on platform disks that allow the wheels to move, while still keeping the car at a standstill. Sensors were connected to the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake. The sensors were also connected to a computer in the backseat so when the driver turned the wheel, the on-screen simulation was turning as well as the actual tires.

 “You just put in: ‘They’ve had this many drinks in this amount of time, male or female’ and the computer kind of takes it from there. It calculates their blood alcohol content and then it’ll simulate it accordingly,” said simulation facilitator Jake Azman, a Michigan native working on the tour.

 Blood Alcohol Content refers to the amount of alcohol contained in a person’s blood and is usually expressed in percentage. In Texas, the level of legal intoxication is .08 percent, but how soon a person gets intoxicated can vary depending on age, gender and weight

 During the simulation, the driver puts on glasses that show a complete 180-degree city scene to travel through. If they are trying to text and drive, they wear the glasses while messaging. If they are imitating a drunk driver, the computer gives the glasses tunnel vision, blurry vision and delayed reactions.

 A usual tour set up will have a tv screen displayed outside the vehicle so passers-by can see the driver’s point of view in the simulator.

 ”Our main purpose is advocacy against people getting behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drink, and for keeping their cell phones in pockets when they’re driving,” said Azman, a 21-year-old Grand Rapids Community College student. “It’s going to be effective to show what’s it’s like.”

 In 2011 McAllen city leaders banned sending and reading texts and browsing the Internet while driving. Prior to that, Texas banned drivers from using phones in school zones, and intermediate license drivers from cellphone usage altogether, including hands-free devices such as headsets.

 According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 453 statewide fatalities in 2012 due to distracted driving.This includes driver inattention or cell-phone use.

 “I think our generation is just so used to having everything at their fingertips now. They do it so often that they don’t even think, ‘I’m driving I should put my phone away,’” Azman said. “Our generation, we always have our phone on us. We don’t think about putting it down even when we’re in the car.”

 The simulation facilitator explained that members of the tour go to about four schools a week. The drill takes on more urgency before Spring Break and high schools’ prom season because alcohol is often involved on those occasions.

 When it comes to drunk driving, there were 376 DUI fatalities in Texas involving drivers between ages 21-30 in 2012 and 88 deaths under age 21, according to TxDOT.

 The simulation volunteer Varela explained that she never drives under the influence because her brother died in a drunk driving accident when she was a senior in high school. However, the rehabilitation major admitted to sometimes fumbling with her phone while on the road.

 The 23-year-old Varela explained that she’s never been in an accident while texting, but crashing in the simulator was a wakeup call and she is going to try keeping the phone in her pocket from now on.

 “As far as texting and driving, I think that I do it because it’s just a habit,” she said. “You get the text, and maybe there’s a red light and think, ‘I can check it really quick,’ and you think it’s somewhat important, but it’s not that important. It can wait.”

Students learn the dangers of texting and driving

By Amir Abbas, Morning Show MJ

23842232_BG1Local youth are being taught the dangers of texting and driving. Thursday morning, in Syracuse, hundreds of students attended a seminar on driving.  The Unite Arrive Alive tour was there with their driving simulator.

Organizers say their message resonates with the youth, particularly some of the powerful statistics they were able to share with the students.  Organizer Tyler Herbstreith says you are actually six times more likely to get into an accident when texting and driving than drinking and driving.

They also say it’s more important for young people to pay attention to the road because they are inexperienced behind the wheel.

Arrive Alive Tour In Milford

By Tim Ashley

MJ-Shidler-11-6-13-taLydia Shidler, West Noble High School student, is seated in the vehicle that is part of a high tech simulator allowing students, in a controlled environment, to experience the potential consequences of drunk and distracted driving.

Recording information is Chris Bennett, part of the road crew for the Arrive Alive Tour. The simulator was set up at Quaker Haven near Dewart Lake in Milford today. Students attending the annual Nontraditional Employment for Women workshop Thursday were able to access it.

‘Arrive Alive Tour’ lands at Calhoun High School

By Scott Brinton

1383157593_af86Last Friday morning, Calhoun High Schools students were driving recklessly in the back parking lot of their school, veering here and there, occasionally crashing into parked cars and nearly missing pedestrians. They were all drunk.

That is, a computer simulator gave them the sensation that they were driving drunk.

UNITE International, a private driver-safety company that holds seminars for companies, colleges and high schools across the country, came to Calhoun on Oct. 25 and set up a black Jeep whose tires rested on sensor pads that allowed students to simulate driving without leaving their parking space. A street scene was projected before them by a pair of goggles connected to a monitor, which recorded their driving speed and any and all traffic violations, accidents, even vehicular deaths. The goggles simulated drunken driving.

The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District teamed up with the Community Parent Center to bring the “Arrive Alive Tour” to Calhoun. The Parent Center’s executive director, Wendy Tepfer, and the Central District’s director of physical education, health and athletics, Saul Lerner, were instrumental in brining the tour to the district.

To help fund the program, the Parent Center received grant funding from the Nassau County Traffic Safety Board, secured by Legislator David Denenberg, a Democrat from Merrick who is up for  re-election this year.

In addition to the simulator, students rode in pedal cars wearing “drunk glasses,” which also gave them a sense of what it is like to drive drunk, as well as walked a sobriety line wearing the glasses and watched films intended to dissuade them from even considering driving while intoxicated.

Thanks to 3-D simulator, Northeast State students learn about dangers of distracted and drunken driving

October 28th, 2013 8:33 pm by Rick Wagner

                   Thanks to 3-D simulator, Northeast State students learn about dangers of distracted and drunken driving

BLOUNTVILLE  — Drinking while driving is bad, but texting while driving is probably worse.

That was one of the messages of UNITE’s Arrive Alive Tour 2013 that came to Northeast State Community College on Monday.

Northeast students got to hear that message and experience the effects of driving while impaired and driving while texting firsthand using a three-dimensional simulator on campus.

“It’s like a video game. It gets people’s attention,” said UNITE’s Pat Sheehy, team leader. “At the same time, it’s raising a serious note about how serious this is.”

Sheehy and driving instructor Martin Burke brought a driving simulator to the Upper Courtyard, where about 85 students, staff and faculty participated.

He said drivers who are texting are 23 percent more likely to be in an accident and that 80 percent of all accidents are related to distracted driving.
Read more:  Thanks to 3-D simulator, Northeast State students learn about dangers of distracted and drunken driving | Kingsport Times-News http://www.timesnews.net/article/9069215/thanks-to-3-d-simulator-northeast-state-students-learn-about-dangers-of-distracted-and-drunken-driving#ixzz2xoauN9HS

Distracted Driving Program Simulates Danger at FCC

The first time I noticed someone texting and driving, it wasn’t because of his hands. It was his knees.

My friend was driving us home when he realized he needed to tell someone he wouldn’t be stopping by that day. He pulled out his cellphone, began typing a message and continued on the highway at 75 mph.

He was steering with his knees, fingers occupied with the literal task at hand. I was terrified. And though we were fine that day, distracted driving leads to thousands of deaths and injuries each year.

UNITE International’s “Arrive Alive Tour” stopped Wednesday by Frederick Community College to simulate what it’s like to drive while distracted, and show the potential consequences.

Eighty percent of motor vehicle crashes are caused by distracted driving, according to Arrive Alive Tour road crew member Chris Bennett. He said texting drivers are six times more likely to crash than if they’ve been drinking.

“Smartphones make it so much more accessible,” Bennett said, adding that the number of those crashes has risen in the past five years.

An admitted frequent car texter myself, I wanted to see if my texting-while-driving skills could stand up to the simulator.

I blasted past the speed limit. I hit at least two virtual pedestrians. Other cars on the road didn’t stand a chance, and it was as if the median didn’t exist. Once, I hit a police car doing 75 mph on a 45 mph road.

And that was all in three minutes. Maybe I’m not as suave as I think.

Granted, the simulator wasn’t a perfect mirror of reality. The driver wears a pair of virtual-reality glasses that allow you to demonstrate texting while driving or drunk driving. Though you’re sitting in a car, it’s not running and the G-forces that would normally alert you to swerving or speeding don’t exist.

FCC students who also tried the simulator said they text while driving because “it’ll just take a second” and because they “can keep (their) eyes on the road.”

“In real life, I don’t swerve (while texting),” first-year student Alyssa Smith-Henry said. “Or at least I didn’t think I did.”

Smith-Henry said people are more likely to text and drive because “everybody texts … not everybody drinks.”

Others acknowledged that distracted and drunk driving crashes affect every community.

Second-year student Rachelle Higgs saw another safe-driving presentation during prom and graduation season as a Linganore High School senior in 2012.

“They told us, ‘This entire group will never be together again,’” Higgs said. “There was definitely an emotional impact.”

Higgs simulated driving after consuming five alcoholic drinks in two hours and said it seemed realistic. She said she’s always known drinking and driving is stupid, so “this is just a confirmation.”

“Barely moving the wheel was like, oops, other side of the road,” Higgs said.

I’m prone to texting, emailing, eating and doing a number of other things on the road because of the nature of my job, and the simulation did give me food for thought. But if I don’t choose to drive safely for myself, Bennett told me, I should do it for others.

For Bennett, 23, the work with UNITE is personal. One high-school friend died in a drinking-and-driving accident, and another friend was injured while texting on the road.

He said people are ignorant about the reality of impaired driving. He loves raising awareness and sharing statistics that could keep someone safe in the future.

“You have to think about your friends, your family, your neighbors who are on the road,” Bennett said.

Follow Rachel S. Karas on Twitter: @rachelkaras.

From Distraction.gov, the U.S. government website for distracted driving:

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared with 3,267 in 2010. An additional 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared with 416,000 injured in 2010.

Ten percent of injury crashes in 2011 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

As of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the U.S. every month.

Eleven percent of all drivers under age 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of a crash. The age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.

For drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent were distracted by cellphones.

On any day across America, about 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.

Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.

Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent at 55 mph of driving the length of a football field.

Headset cellphone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.

A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. Twenty percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.

Simulator Shows HCC Students the Danger of Texting and Driving

textHOUSTON, TX – You might think you have everything under control. But the truth is, my friend, when you’re texting while driving or you’ve had one too many, you’re hitting the road that could take you straight to your grave.

Students at Houston Community College – Central had a unique opportunity to realize how bad a driver can be under the influence or while using their phones. But don’t worry; it was just a simulator, at least this one time.

“Our mission here is to empower students with wonderful opportunities such as the Unite car simulator,” explained Sonya Sneed, Student Life Coordinator at HCC.

“This is an attempt to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving and texting and driving by letting students actually get in the car and drive it under these conditions in a safe environment,” said Patrick Sheehy from Unite’s Arrive Alive Tour.

William Eldreth, a student at HCC, summarized his experience at the wheel: “I crashed twice, I’m pretty sure I was speeding. It’s not a good thing to drink and drive. It’s terrible.”

Distracted driving is not a joke. Though for some reason we just don’t seem to get the message. But causing and accident and ruining other people’s lives — that’s something you just can’t auto correct.

Read more: http://newsfixnow.com/2013/10/17/simulator-shows-hcc-student-the-danger-of-texting-and-driving/#ixzz2xnq5OFZZ

Students simulate the consequences of drunk and distracted driving



In a short thirty-second demonstration, students at Cumberland County College learned a sobering lesson about drunk and distracted driving that they will carry with them on to the road.

“Not answering my phone, never drinking and driving, just focus,” said student Brittany Church.

“I found it very effective cause I’m pretty sure a lot of people text and drive or drink and drive and they have the visuals of what can happen hands on.”

“It was cool because I never knew what it was like to drive drunk and now I’ll never do it,” said student Melissa Burwick.

The simulator was brought to campus as part of the Arrive Alive Tour from the awareness group UNITE.

“They can try texting and driving by taking their phone out and sending text messages or drinking and driving. We slow down their reaction time, affect their hand eye coordination and see how they do” said Arrive Alive Team Leader Tyler Herbstreith.

Fake citations are handed out to increase the realistic feel to the simulation all while a TV screen continuously displays the images of real life distracted driving accidents.

“I think it’s a realistic experience for them in a safe environment so they get to actually try to see what its like and hopefully it opens their eyes for them,” said Herbstreith.

This is one of three simulators that routinely visits colleges and high schools around the country. This hands on educational tool allows students to feel the steering wheel and gas pedal and witness the effects of drunk and distracted driving. And while everyone walked away from head on collisions without a scratch today, the impact of the demonstration was certainly felt.

“It made me think of people that who died and their kids,” said Angel Moreno.

“It’s dramatic. I wouldn’t do it.”

‘It gives you a chance to experience it in a safe environment which is exactly what you want to do if you want to learn about it,” said student Brandon Hinton.

All of the participants today were also given pictures of themselves in the simulator to place on their key chains and serve as a reminder before they get behind the wheel.

Distracted Driver Simulator event allows Ohio State students to learn consequences first-hand

September 27, 2013


Marty Burke, a driving instructor with the Arrive Alive program, takes a photo of Megan Swanger, a third-year in nursing, while she does the Distracted Driving Simulator Sept. 26 outside of Ohio Union. Credit: Liz Young / Campus editor

Marty Burke, a driving instructor with the Arrive Alive program, takes a photo of Megan Swanger, a third-year in nursing, while she does the Distracted Driving Simulator Sept. 26 outside of Ohio Union.
Credit: Liz Young / Campus editor

Some Ohio State students gathered outside the Ohio Union to see what it was like to text and drive or drive while under the influence of alcohol Thursday.

The Distracted Driver Simulator, hosted by Student Legal Services, was run by the Arrive Alive Tour, a company dedicated to heightening awareness to the dangers and consequences of drunk driving, according to its mission statement.

Student Legal Services, an organization committed to providing OSU students legal advice, representation, education and resources, organized the event to educate students about the negative consequences of driving while intoxicated, said Molly Hegarty, managing director for Student Legal Services.

“A part of our mission is that we want to educate students about the issues that affect them,” Hegarty said. “Obviously we want to highlight the dangers of distracted driving either distraction from texting or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

The event was done in conjunction with the Buckeye Block Watch Bash, an event that focused on many types of safety such as pedestrian safety and fire safety and was hosted by Student Life’s Off-Campus and Commuter Student Engagement Office, Hegarty said.

Students who tested the simulator were given the choice to try the texting and driving simulation or the drunk driving simulation, Hegarty said. In the former demonstration, students used a phone while driving a simulation in a parked car, while in the latter, students used a virtual reality headpiece.

While the Distracted Driving Simulator event was planned before the video of Ohio resident Matthew Cordle confessing he killed a man while drinking and driving was released, Hegarty believes the video may have increased participation at the event.

Third-year in speech and hearing science Alexa Norris said she thinks the combination of seeing the Cordle video and trying the simulator would be very effective at reducing drunk driving.

“In combination together, it could be very effective,” Norris said. “The student is getting the experience that the simulator is giving you; and the student is also getting an emotional aspect that a lot of people can relate to with a death of someone in their family, or someone they know from school.”

Elizabeth Stringer, a third-year in English, said public confessions like the video by Cordle should help to diminish the number of people that drink and drive.

“Videos like his give a personal aspect to stories like that,” Stringer said. “You see them on the news all the time, but you very rarely hear the effects on the driver after the experience. About his own heartache and how he is going to have to remember that for the rest of his life.”

Norris also said the texting and driving simulation was a valuable experience.

“I expected to be able to text pretty easy while driving because I have before, and it hasn’t been a problem, but I almost hit someone,” Norris said. “I think that probably every student on this campus has texted while driving, and they are lying if they say they haven’t. I think this simulator gets the awareness out about the consequences of it, and how easy it is to take someone’s life.”

Dylan Taylor, a second-year in human development and family science, said the simulator was not realistic enough though.

“It’s just weird since it’s a cartoon,” Taylor said. “It was animated instead of being real live driving and didn’t look like actual roads.”

Student Legal Services is able to represent students in the Franklin County Municipal Court for criminal misdemeanors, which sometimes means representing students in an operating a vehicle while impaired case, Hegarty said, so the office was taking a more proactive approach to the issue with the Distracted Driver Simulator.

“What we’re trying to do is get out ahead of the issue, and prevent that from happening by educating students about the dangers of drinking and driving,” Hegarty said, adding that she didn’t have specific numbers about how many students have been represented in court for an OVI.

The consequences of being found guilty of a first offense OVI can result in a minimum of a three day jail sentence, or being enrolled in a three-day intervention program, as well as a $250 or greater fine, court costs and a six month license suspension, according to DrivingLaws.org.

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