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Drive Is Simulated…Dangers Of Texting Behind The Wheel Are Very Real

Brett Blume
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5/30/12-Recent Sumner graduate Ambrose Burks wears specially-designed goggles and tries to send a text while at the wheel of the AT&T virtual reality simulator Wednesday. "I used to do it A LOT," Burke said about texting behind the wheel after "crashing" the simulator, "but it's not safe at all". Like many teens who go through the simulator experience, he swore off texting while driving for good. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

5/30/12-Recent Sumner graduate Ambrose Burks wears specially-designed goggles and tries to send a text while at the wheel of the AT&T virtual reality simulator Wednesday. “I used to do it A LOT,” Burke said about texting behind the wheel after “crashing” the simulator, “but it’s not safe at all”. Like many teens who go through the simulator experience, he swore off texting while driving for good. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) –  Within seconds of getting behind the wheel, recent Sumner High graduate Ambrose Burks picked up a smart-phone and started texting.

That’s when he lost control and crashed.

As he got out of the car shaken but smiling sheepishly, Burks swore off the dangerous practice once and for all.

“No more texting and driving,” Burks said as he signed his name to a list pledging to remain text-free behind the wheel. “I used to do it A LOT but it’s not safe at all.”

Luckily for the teen, the car he had just been in had never moved — it was parked outside Harris-Stowe State University after arriving in St. Louis as part of AT&T’s national virtual reality simulator tour.

AT&T spokesman Tony Wyche pointed out that the timing of the tour is no accident.

He added that we’ve now entered what AT&T is calling the “100 Deadliest Days” on the road for teen drivers.

The VR simulator experience is meant to drive that point home.

“If you’re driving 55 miles an hour and you look down just for five seconds to check that text, you’ve travelled…blindly…the entire distance of a football field,” according to Wyche.

A new survey commissioned by AT&T as part of the “It Can Wait” campaign indicates that while 97% of teens know texting while driving is dangerous, 43% still admit that they’ve done it.

Three out of every four teens says the potentially deadly practice is common among their friends.

Adults don’t always provide the best example, either.

According to the study, 77% of teens said while adults are constantly harping on them about the dangers of texting and driving, those same adults are doing it “all the time”.

Two out of every five teens surveyed said they had been in the car and watched their parents send or read a text behind the wheel.

“Our survey also evaluated teen opinions about drinking and driving compared to texting while driving,” said AT&T director of consumer safety and education, Andrea Brands. “While we’re happy to report that sixty percent of them understand texting while driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving, there’s still work to be done to make this behavior just as socially unacceptable.”

You can count Ambrose Burks among the converted.

“Never again,” he pledged after his turn behind the wheel of the AT&T simulator.

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