185th Members Test Their Distracted Driving Skills

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Rich Murphy
  • 185th Public Affairs
Members at the 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) in Sioux City, Iowa had the opportunity Sunday to test their skills at texting and driving. The PEERS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping young men and women make healthy decisions, brought in a driving simulator to highlight the dangers of texting while driving.

The driving simulator, a Toyota Corolla connected to a virtual reality program, shows users how dangerous texting and driving can be. Users strap on the virtual reality goggles and attempt to text messages to their friends while driving through one of several scenarios. The program records how many traffic violations the user commits while driving, as well as how many pedestrians the virtual driver hits.

The 185th ARW Wing Commander, Col. Brian Miller, drove the simulator to test his skills, and the results were disturbing. "I ran over the center line quite a few times, and I killed a dog," said Miller.

According to statistics provided by the CDC, more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 people are injured each day in automobile accidents due to distracted driving.

Currently, it is against the law to email or send text messages in Iowa. Despite that law and several other state bans across the nation, the CDC found that 52% of U.S. drivers between the ages 18 and 29 reported texting or e-mailing while driving at least once in the last 30 days. Further, more than a quarter of these young men and women report texting or e-mailing "regularly" or "fairly often" while driving.

The PEERS Foundation aims to raise awareness, especially among teens, of the dangers of distracted driving. Dillon Richardson, a representative from PEERS, said the simulator shows others the dangers of distracted driving. "We travel to schools and organizations across the nation, helping folks understand how dangerous texting and driving can be."

The PEERS Foundation contacted Senior Master Sgt. Rick Irwin, the 185th safety manager, about bringing the simulator to the 185th. Irwin said, "Every year we are required to address road safety issues. We thought this simulator would be much more effective than simply lecturing our airmen about the dangers."

For more information on the PEERS Foundation or the texting and driving simulator, visit their website at http://www.peerawareness.com.

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