Simulator shows teens in Gatlinburg dangers of distracted driving

GATLINBURG (WATE) – Students from across the state got a lesson in safe driving Monday in Gatlinburg.

The Future Farmers of America Convention in Gatlinburg won the chance to have AT&T’s virtual reality simulator show the students the dangers of texting and driving.

“We’re here with the FFA at their state convention with our virtual reality simulator teaching them not to text or do any kind of distracted driving,” said Dennis Wagner, AT&T Director of External Affairs.

AT&T set up their “It Can Wait” simulator because the Tennessee FFA won a competition, getting nearly 800 pledges to not drive distracted.¬†Finley Denton from Nashville hopped behind the wheel of the simulator.

“It really showed what it would be like to be in that kind of situation,” said Denton.

The simulator uses virtual reality to give the students a first-hand look at how dangerous distracted driving, especially texting and driving, can be.

“When you look away from the road for five seconds you travel the length of a football field. Who know what can happen in that length of time,” Wagner said.

Inside the goggles you see a 360 video portraying you as the driver. It ends with a crash which AT&T’s research shows 7 out of 10 people are more at risk of by using their smartphones while driving.

“They’ve grown up with phones in their hand, and it’s just so easy for them to be texting and not paying attention to what they’re doing,” Wagner said.

After the simulation they ask you to take a pledge not to drive distracted.

“Be very cautious because it can happen,” Denton said.

AT&T said so far their “It Can Wait” campaign has inspired more that 14 million pledges to not drive distracted.

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