Iowa Central Community College students got a firsthand look into the effects of texting while driving Thursday afternoon.
The Save a Life tour, a production of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Kramer Entertainment, brought those effects to life through its simulated program and display at the Bioscience and Health Science and Health Services Auditorium.
Distracted driving is one of the top killers among young drivers.
-Messenger photo by Emilie Nelson
Kaden Anderson tries to send a text message during a simulated driving situation with the Distracted Driving program presented by the Save A Life Tour Thursday. Save A Life Tour staffer Christopher Rich watches for violations to write on Anderson’s “ticket.”
Students watched a 20-minute video depicting a carload of teenage girls getting into an accident caused by a driver sending a text message, and the after-effects of the crash: death, serious injuries, recovery and drastic change in physical appearance from facial injuries sustained in the accident.
"We want students to see why texting can be so dangerous," said Jonathan Saigeon, a representative of Kramer Entertainment. "There are all different scenarios when students sit down in the simulator and they don't know what they will get."
The installation's simulated vehicle is equipped with a brake and accelerator, turn signal, and an iPhone, which receives numerous text messages throughout the simulation. A large screen depicts a road where the driver encounters turns, exits, pedestrians and oncoming traffic.
The driver's level of distraction dictates the final outcome.
"The driver gets about 30 text messages that are just simple one-word answers that they reply to," said Saigeon. "They usually start out pretty good, but once they grab the phone, they end up on the shoulder, over the center line and running lights."
No one leaves the experience without receiving a "citation" for at least one violation. But in a worst case scenario, the "driver" may survive.
Such was the case for Iowa Central student Anna Gray.
"I died during mine," Gray said. "Really, it's hard texting and driving at the same time, and that's why I just don't do it."
Kaden Anderson found it difficult to maintain a steady speed, often driving too fast or too slow while missing turns and interstate exits in the snow during his simulator experience.
"It's a lot harder than you'd think, Anderson said.
"It goes beyond the phone," said Saigeon. "It can have an effect on everything and everyone."