Texas DUI, Texting Awareness

This past week, among the more popular attractions in the Student Activities Center at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa has been an educational setup designed to teach students the dangers of driving drunk and texting while driving. The most popular attractions were two simulators; one designed to simulate a DUI situation and a second one demonstrating response times when you text while driving. The simulators were provided by the Save a Life Tour, and they hope to give students at the school a better idea how alcohol and texting impact their driving abilities, especially with regard to reaction times.

The drunk driving simulator is set up to increase alcohol levels the longer a student drives, and it includes virtual streets and people, as well as some virtual rain, just to try to keep the students on their toes. At the end of the drive, someone from Kramer Entertainment, who developed and provided the simulator, tells the student how far they had driven, how many curbs they hit and how many moving violations they had committed during  their drive.

The texting and driving booth gave students a chance to test their driving ability during a fake snowstorm as they were being bombarded with text messages they felt compelled to answer. The purpose of the simulation was to demonstrate the level of distraction cell phones can be, as well as showing how far it’s possible to drive without even realizing it.

In addition to the simulators, there were also video screens showing films about drunk driving, like “Death by Alcohol: The Sam Spady Story,” as well as “Smashed,” which is a film about underage drinking.

Hopefully, these students walked away with a better understanding of the dangers of drunk driving or texting and driving and made them more cautious about the experience of driving in general. Texas can use some help. The state led the nation in drunk driving deaths in 2013, with 1,337, which accounts for about 40 percent of all traffic fatalities. Those fatalities cost the state more than $6 billion. In addition to the deaths, 15,687 people were also injured that year.

There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to distracted driving. There were nearly 95,000 crashes in Texas involving distracted driving, resulting in 459 fatalities and 18,576 serious injuries. Distracted driving is cited as a factor in nearly 20 percent of all Texas traffic accidents and the numbers are increasing every year.

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