AT&T shows potential texting danger

University Student Union Productions and AT&T’s sponsorship brought the AwareTXT Texting and Driving Simulator to campus Wednesday to raise awareness of the dangers behind texting and driving.

Texting is something that can be fatal, said Rose Winquest of the Peer Foundation, who was contracted by AT&T. “You are 23 times more likely to get in an accident.”

According to Winquest, texting is responsible for 28 percent of accidents on the road.

The free event, the first of its kind to come to Fresno State kicked off at 8 a.m. and wrapped up at 3 p.m in the free speech area.

AT&T has traveled the country to bring awareness to the public. The Free Speech Area attracted many throughout the day as students were able to get behind the wheel of a Fiat and test the simulator.

Jacqueline Moreno, 18, an undeclared freshman student, got first-hand experience of what it feels like to get behind the wheel while texting and driving.

A key word Moreno brought up was multitasking. Gripping the steering wheel with her left hand and cell phone in the right, after about 10 seconds of texting and driving, Moreno said she died.

“It was so interesting,” said Moreno. “I thought I was going to do pretty decent. But I kind of died.”

Moreno admitted that before, she would glance at her phone but not respond. However, after this experience and pledging she will not text and drive, glancing is something she won’t even do again.

“I’m really scared to just look at my phone now,” said Moreno.

The simulator was meant to travel at speeds of 55 mph, but one could very easily exceed the speed limit while distracted by a cell phone.

‘This is my last text’, Moreno was instructed by Winquest to text. Through the virtual reality headset, a city street appeared with street lights, cars, pedestrians and so on. One quick glance at the device in her right hand, and a pedestrian could be killed.

This event couldn’t have come at a more perfect time said Bianca Maglalang, public relations and marketing co-coordinator for USU Productions. Last week, USU Productions held Alcohol Awareness Week.

“We care about our students, because we are students. We care about the students and their safety as well,” said Maglalang. “We want to raise awareness. We want to make sure every student is safe.”

Madison Gonzaga, special events coordinator with USU Productions, said they received positive feedback from participants. Participants had the chance to have their photos taken under an “I Pledge…” sign on a whiteboard as they pledged to never text and drive followed by #itcanwait, the motto behind AT&T’s awareness campaign.

“Texting takes 38 percent of the brain activity that you would normally focus on your driving. It’s taking that away from your driving to send that text message,” explained Windquest.

To send or read a message takes away 4.5 seconds of  every 6 seconds driving, she added.

AT&T has developed a free mobile application for AT&T customers with Android and Blackberry devices called Drive Mode. This application when enabled will send a custom auto-reply message if a message comes in while driving.

“One simple word could change the life of somebody else or change your life. It can definitely wait,” said Maglalang. “One little text isn’t worth a life or the life of another.”