Simulator shows students dangers of distracted driving

Local high school students participated in a distracted driving simulation using augmented reality.

“We’re going to educate the students on the dangers of distracted driving,” said Orlando Estrada, with the PEERS Foundation.

The PEERS Foundation partnered with General Motors to bring their augmented reality driving simulator to Beecher High School on March 20. The simulator puts students, like sophomore Jacoby Sanders, behind the wheel to see what it feels like to drive distracted.

“It’s like real life, like if you turn and you’re not looking in the road then you might swerve somewhere else,” Jacoby said.

The simulator showed street signs, pedestrians and traffic, but with other factors added to the mix like music, friends in the backseat and texting.

The other students in the class were able to text the driver in real time so they added to the distractions.

Jacoby didn’t do so great. He ran over two pedestrians during his short time with the simulator. He said texting and driving is a big problem both in the virtual and real world.

“Being on your phone, that’s the biggest one to me because I know a few people who do that and it kind of scares me,” Jacoby said.

In the end, they hope the crashes made with the simulator decrease the ones on the road.

“Just focus on the road. I don’t think anything is that important,” Jacoby said.

The PEERS Foundation and General Motors plans to bring the program to 86 schools in Michigan this year.