October 24, 2014

State Patrol to buy simulators to teach about distracted driving

The Iowa State Patrol is getting a $25,000 grant from an insurance company to buy three driving simulators that depict the perils of distracted driving. The simulators each feature wrap-around screens and a make-shift car with a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals.

Sergeant Scott Bright says teens — and adults — who use the simulator will sit down, buckle in and feel like they’re driving along, until the lesson begins. “We’ll actually ask them to pull their cell phone out and start texting while they’re behind that wheel,” Sergeant Bright says.

“It’ll show on the screen what the car usually does. It’ll start to veer, change lanes.” The whole episode can be played back, too, so drivers can see where they started to go astray — and the consequences.

Bright says, “We feel by the hands-on demonstration in educating teenage drivers about the dangers of texting and driving, hopefully we will be able to see the results in a reduction in the number of fatalities.” The simulators will be used as part of a traveling troopers exhibit.

“We have 13 safety education officers around the state of Iowa that will talk to at least a thousand driver’s ed courses throughout the year,” Bright says. “It’s going to give us a great opportunity to get in the classroom, show teenagers the dangers of texting and driving, and by the education, hopefully, they will not get out there and do it when they’re behind the wheel.”

The Patrol’s safety education unit does some 65-hundred presentations a year throughout Iowa to various groups, including: schools, civic organizations, churches, businesses, and other events geared toward educating the public.