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Students learn dangers of distracted driving through virtual reality

With the help of virtual reality goggles, New Mexico State students learned firsthand how easily they can become distracted behind the wheel.

“I’m definitely not using my phone,” said Sikta Das, after trying the simulator. “I’m not even looking at my phone while I’m driving. Not during red signals.”

In addition to the AT&T simulation, there were dozens of names of those who died as a result of distracted driving.

“We have to understand how dangerous it is,” said Terri Nikole Baca, who works for AT&T New Mexico. “I think that people naturally think, ‘I can handle it. I can be on my phone and I can be driving.’ They don’t truly understand the impact it has on their driving skills.”

The state of New Mexico banned texting while driving in 2014. Ten people died a day of distracted driving in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Paying attention to a cell phone or reading or eating or doing something that distracts you as you’re driving, is just as dangerous or more dangerous than driving while intoxicated,” said Dan Trujillo, spokesman for the Las Cruces Police Department.

As part of their visit, AT&T also donated $14,000 to the Young Women in Computing program.

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