Clay High School students experience dangers of distracted driving through simulation

It’s easy to glance down at your phone when you get a text message while you’re driving.

But looking away from the road, only for that split second, could cost you your life.

Students are learning this first-hand through a distracted driving simulation. The PEERS foundation is traveling to high schools across the state, teaching students about distracted driving.

Rather than just lecturing them about it, students are put through a driving course using augmented reality involving a series of distractions.

Students at Clay High School didn’t just spend time in a classroom Tuesday; instead, they were inside a car.

They’re learning the dangers of distracted driving by stepping into an augmented reality simulator, putting on a headset and pressing the gas pedal.

“Everything could just hit all at once,” said Yezabella Jaramilo, junior. “Everything could turn around in an instant, and it’s really sad to see all that.”

Members from the PEERS Foundation are working one-on-one with students, challenging them to make quick decisions while dealing with realistic distractions on the road.

“Everybody that I know has been impacted by some degree by a distracted driver,” said Orlando Estrada, P.E.E.R.S. Foundation. “It’s not just being on their cell phone, it’s reaching for water bottles, putting on makeup, reading books, watching videos on their phone.”

Estrada is teaching students through his own personal experiences when a friend became distracted and drove the car straight into a ditch.

“You have no control,” said Estrada. “It’s like, ‘Welp this is what’s going to happen. Hopefully he figures out how to maintain the steering wheel.’ She did, but some people aren’t that fortunate.”

That’s why he’s standing in front of students, teaching them to be proactive by signing a pledge to not become a distracted driver.

“I think it will give me more knowledge on like how to not drive distracted, and like take precaution on driving. Like put my phone away, it’s not that important,” said Jaramilo.

WSBT 22’s Lauren Becker actually had a chance to get in the car and try it out for herself. She said it’s hard! She says she crashed about four times, while checking her work emails. She also ran a red light.

The bottom line is to keep your eyes on the road.