Distracted-driving simulator at MSU on Tuesday

Distracted driving poses a significant and growing threat both to the violators and those traveling with them on the roads.

To help Mississippi State students, employees and interested members of the public appreciate the very real possibilities for death and injury, the university's health education and wellness department is bringing a driving simulator to campus Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Open to all, the stationary demonstrator will be in place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. between the Colvard Student Union and YMCA Building.

"Every year, there is an increased number of highway accidents for teens and adults who use cell phones while driving or are engaged in other means of distracted driving," said Joyce Yates, health education and wellness director.

She said participants will be able to take a "test drive," viewing a computerized screen above the dash that simulates a vehicle in motion. Upon completion of the exercise, the "drivers" will be able to see how well or poorly they did in the demonstration.

According to the National Highway Safety Commission, an estimated 16 percent of all fatal car crashes and 21 percent of all injury-causing car crashes are due to distracted driving. In addition to cell phone use, some other common distractive causes include radio adjustments and dealing with children and other passengers.

According to the website www.distraction.gov, the three types of distracted driving involve drivers taking their eyes off the road, taking their hands off the wheel and losing focus on what they are doing.

Yates said texting while driving combines all three of these since a vehicle operator typically holds the cell phone, focuses on the small screen and comprehends the message. Studies show that drivers operating hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves, she added.

Allison Matthews | University Relations

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