NY students to see danger of texting while driving

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:15

    WHITE PLAINS — Students in suburban New York are getting a chance to learn the perils of distracted driving without having to worry about an accident or a traffic ticket. A texting-while-driving simulator that resembles an old-fashioned video game is being demonstrated at nine Westchester County high schools this week, District Attorney Janet DiFiore said. The simulator features the voice of an annoying passenger who doesn't wear her seat belt, asks the driver to speed up and then has him make a phone call and send a text message to her brother. The driver tries to maneuver local streets and then highways while using a real cellphone or the one on the video display. During a demonstration, test subjects including Scarsdale police Chief John Brogan quickly got into fake accidents while trying to multitask. The simulator is part of a plan to teach and enforce a state law that went into effect in July. The new law allows police to stop and ticket drivers they see texting while driving. The penalty can be as high as $150 and three points on a driving record. Previously, police could cite drivers for texting only if they were stopped primarily for another offense, such as speeding. In March, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released a poll that said 30 percent of people under 30 acknowledged sending text messages while driving. The simulator is owned by several agents of the Nationwide Insurance Co., which is taking part in the education campaign.