Simulation aims to save lives

Jenna Liu

Representatives from the U.S. Army ran a distracted driving simulator outside of the Columbia Area Career Center yesterday. The simulator was designed to help students understand the dangers of distracted driving.  Sergeant First Class Chris Chavira, who guided through the simulation, said the importance of the simulator cannot be overstated.
“We’re trying to educate [students] about what driving distracted is like and what the consequences are,” Chavira said. “We give them the same message: Don’t text and drive. We also give them statistics so they understand how important it is.”
Those who signed up to try the simulator out sat in a contraption equipped with a wheel, brakes and a gas pedal. While ‘driving’, they received texts from a fake number, and had to respond to the messages while avoiding pets, pedestrians and stray soccer balls. Chavira said some of the 35-40 students who he worked with approached the simulation with an interesting goal.
“The perception among a lot of [students] is that they can they can come in here and beat the system, beat the game,” Chavira said. “There really is no winner, as to say, on this system. Not at all.”
Though junior James Coyne said he never texts while driving, he still participated in the simulation to remind himself of the dangers of distracted driving.
“I decided to do the simulation today because I think it’s a really good idea,” Coyne said. “It’s important not to use your phone or text, because it could change your whole life.”
Chavira said that ultimately, the Army’s goal with the simulator was to emphasize the dangers of texting and driving to teen drivers, who are the biggest offenders.
“What we’re really doing is bringing America’s army to America’s people. [The simulator] was built to educate the general public about the problem of distracted driving; that’s a big problem right now in the country,” Chavira said. “If we could save one life by demonstrating to them what the consequences are of testing and driving, then we’ve done our job.”