State police use simulation to show the dangers of texting and driving

Posted at: 03/02/2013 7:20 PM
Updated at: 03/02/2013 11:14 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

The Rochester International Auto Show is back in town and New York State Police are taking advantage of the event to promote safety while driving.

It's something many drivers are guilty of, texting and driving.

State police say its a very serious issue in our area. They partnered up with Allstate Insurance to help increase awareness by using a real-life simulator at the auto show.

The game is very realistic and it really shows you how easy it is to get distracted on the road. But since so many people still text and drive, state police wanted to give drivers a little taste of reality.

“It's important for people to realize the dangers of multitasking. People think they can do it but they really can't,” said New York State Police Trooper Mark O'Donnell.

It's a problem that doesn't seem to be going away.

“We deal with serious accidents all the time that the contributing factor was distracted driving, specifically texting and driving,” said O'Donnell.

For state police the Rochester International Auto Show was the perfect place to deliver the message. They even took it a step further and let drivers test their own skills on the road with a real-life safety simulator.

It was just like driving through a real-life neighborhood. Drivers had to try to text and drive while several distractions where thrown their way.

The game was designed to show the consequences of not keeping your eyes on the road.

“I was on the highway and I hit a cone. I almost hit a pedestrian. I went on the median a couple of times, you know, went in and out of the lane,” said Jason Atkinson, who tested the simulator.

Even though Atkinson didn't do so well on his test, he's hoping his son can learn from his mistakes.
“I like to instill that in him, so hopefully when he starts driving he doesn't start texting and driving or using his cell phone while he's driving,” said Atkinson.

State police say they hope drivers got the message loud and clear. Keep your eyes on the road and off your phone.

“You can't multitask when you're driving a motor vehicle, so it's very important when you're behind the wheel to focus on driving. If you need to answer the phone or answer a text wait until you get to your destination and then look at your phone when you get there,” said O'Donnell.

Besides risking an accident, if you are caught texting and driving in New York State you will be fined up to $150, plus $85 in fees. You can also get up to three points on your license.

There's still plenty of time to get down to the auto show at the Riverside Convention Center. It wraps up Sunday night at 7 p.m.