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Westchester High School Students Attempt Simulated Distracted Driving

A texting-while-driving simulator similar to an old-fashioned video game is being demonstrated at nine Westchester County high schools this week.

The simulator aims to replicate some real world distractions.  These distractions come via the voice of an annoying passenger who fails to wear her own seat belt, asks the driver to drive faster and then requests that the driver calls and texts her brother.

Through the distractions the driver must maneuver local streets and then highways while using either a real cellphone or the one integrated with the video simulation.

During a demonstration yesterday, test subjects routinely got into fake accidents while trying to multitask.  Scarsdale police Chief John Brogan quickly got into an “accident” while trying the simulator himself.

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said the demonstration should make it very clear that “even one second of distraction can lead to a lifetime of regret” and that distracted driving poses dangers “not only to the driver and the passenger but to everyone who uses the roads.”

The simulator is part of a plan to teach and enforce state laws related to distracted driving that governor Cuomo has shown are clearly a priority in New York.  These laws have gone secondary violations (could only be issued if the car stop was primarily for another violation) which cary no points to secondary violations that carry two points (February) and then to primary violations which carry three points (July) all this year.

While distracted driving is something every single driver needs to avoid, it is particularly prevalent with younger (and thus the least experienced) drivers.   In March, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released a poll that said 30 percent of people under 30 acknowledged sending text messages while driving.

Scott Feifer


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