BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - They have heard the warnings before: Don't text and drive! On Monday, some young, inexperienced drivers at Biloxi High School sat behind the wheel for a life-changing experience. It was a virtual reality lesson with deadly consequences.
The teenagers put on goggles that could change the way they view distracted driving. The virtual reality glasses placed Biloxi High students behind the wheel of a car. During the three-minute drive, they experienced numerous close calls, because text messages kept popping up. The drivers got to see what can happen if they take their eyes off the road, even for a split second, to check their phones.
"It was intense, because you can actually see everything. You could look to the side and see the kids walking and then you see them almost hit," said Biloxi High Freshman Eva Prentiss.
More than 100 driver's education students took the life-changing ride. AT&T sponsored the "It Can Wait" campaign to show how texting and driving can turn into a dangerous habit.
"It can cut back on the number of unfortunate incidents where we've had deaths, where we've had paralysis. We've had life changing incidents to happen, because someone picked up a text and tried to reply to it when all we want them to do is wait," said AT&T External Affairs Manager Michael Walker.
The simulated ride ended tragically with a fatal crash.
"I just got hit and there's a lot of shattered glass around the screen," said Biloxi High Sophomore Darryll Henderson. "I think it's a very good experience to learn what not to do while driving, especially texting and driving."
"It's scary," said Eva.
It was a scary reminder for drivers to keep their eyes focused on the road, instead of their phones.
Before the virtual reality ride, the students watched real-life stories of people who have been involved in texting and driving accidents. They also took surveys before and after their experience. Afterwards, the teens signed a pledge promising not to text and drive.