Hundreds of students at Coughlin High School discovered Thursday just how difficult driving can be. They got behind the wheel of a computer driver simulator and dealt with a variety of distractions. “It’s pretty hard to do when you have a lot of distractions around you, it’s kind of hard,” said 15-year-old freshman Charles Jones. He hopes to begin driving next year. Thanks to the driver simulator, he discovered how quickly a traffic violation or even a crash could occur when his focus wasn’t entirely on the virtual road. “The people talking around and like the phone up in the screen. Everything happening around you.”
Coughlin Health and Physical Education teacher Jim Costello helped supervise students on the simulator. “This is a great experience for them to come in and not only see how difficult it is to do.. to drive but how difficult it is to stay concentrated while there are so many distractions that could take place,” he said.
Coughlin High School presented the program to freshman and sophomore students to drive home the risks of distracted driving. According to the website, ten percent of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. “We’ve seen over the years several students not only have minor accidents and real shake-ups but we’ve also seen some tragic accidents as well with motor vehicle accidents and it’s a hard thing for a community to get over so we really try to hit them at a very young age,” said Mr. Costello.
While the program was geared toward younger students, 17-year-old senior and licensed driver April Llewellyn experienced the simulator. Distractions caused her to strike a virtual pedestrian and run a virtual stop sign. “Definitely don’t get distracted while driving because you can get in a lot of accidents,” she said.
PennDOT and Northeast Highway Safety teamed-up to bring the Lehigh Valley Health Network Driver Simulator to Coughlin High School.