Mobile Simulator Brings High-Tech Distracted Driving Awareness to VT Teens
October 27, 2016
Press Release by YSCVT.
Springfield High School to be first to experience new resource
The Youth Safety Council of Vermont is known for helping young drivers learn the dangers of driving while distracted. Usually our ‘Turn Off Texting’ program uses a very analog tool: golf carts and traffic cones. Beginning November 1 at Springfield High School, Vermont will take a step into the future as student drivers begin to experience a fully digital driving experience made possible through a new pilot partnership and funding provided by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
The Youth Safety Council of Vermont shares a DMV-designed Turn Off Texting program with schools during the spring and autumn semesters when the weather allows golf carts to be used to show drivers how dangerous it is to text while driving. Students try to navigate a course of cones while texting and almost always drive over the cones while they’re looking at their phones. The cones are proxies for pedestrians and other cars, and the students realize how important it is to stay focused while behind the steering wheel. On rainy days or the cold winter months, the program, which must operate outdoors, can’t be presented. A new partnership with Wallingford-based My Decision Driving is changing this, helping to expand this first-hand distracted driving experience into the winter season.
My Decision Driving operates a Doron 550 driving simulator which travels inside a 30-foot mobile classroom. The simulator is state of the art, using three 42” screens that provide a 180-degree view, and controls with haptic feedback — creating motion and forces that make ‘driving’ it seem real. Roads and hazards are custom programmed and after students participate in a simulated distracted driving experience their route can be replayed on the monitors, showing them how their distraction led to dangerous situations for themselves and others. The Doron 550 is usually used to train law enforcement personnel; My Decision Driving operates the only private mobile driving simulator business on the East coast.
The Youth Safety Council of Vermont and My Decision Driving are demonstrating the effectiveness of simulated driving experiences as a learning tool. Working together with support from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and Turn Off Texting sponsor AT&T, they’ll provide a limited number of winter demonstrations free of charge, coordinated with driver educators at Vermont high schools during the 2016-2017 winter. James Lockridge of the Youth Safety Council said, “This pilot may help us change the driving attitudes of a whole generation of young Vermonters, making them safer decision makers and reducing major crashes on Vermont’s roads.”
Paul Burroughs of My Decision Driving said, “Just like with the ‘real world’ experience, young drivers live through the consequences of their choices while driving but benefit from making those choices in a virtual environment. Their education is first-hand and leads to life-long changes in perspective.”
Members of the press are welcome to visit the Youth Safety Council / My Decision Driving driving simulator demonstration when it is shared with students at Springfield High School on November 1 and 2, 7:45am-Noon. The school is located at 303 South Street.
Driver Educators in Vermont are welcome to schedule the golf cart or driving simulator Turn Off Texting programs at yscvt.org.
James Lockridge, Youth Safety Council of Vermont, (802) 881-9050, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Burroughs, My Decision Driving, (802) 770-8006, email@example.com
Photo: Paul Burroughs, My Decision Driving CEO and Youth Safety Council of Vermont ‘Turn Off Texting’ Presenter, inside the Doron 550 mobile driving simulator. Photo: Times Argus, distributed with permission.