Mayo Clinic Uses Technology to Show Dangers of Distracted Driving

July 30, 2019 06:12 PM

(ABC 6 News) - With the hands-free driving law going into effect in Minnesota August 1, Mayo Clinic’s Trauma Center is raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving through new technology.

It’s a driving simulator that looks like a video game, complete with a steering wheel and foot pedal. Drivers are tasked with going through a neighborhood, trying to avoid animals, pedestrians and other cars while receiving text messages on their actual cell phones. It’s meant to show the consequences of distracted driving. 

"They say being distracted while you are driving can be equivalent to having a .08 blood alcohol concentration. It's like if you're texting and look down on your phone, it's like driving blindfolded the length of a football field," said Todd Emanuel a Registered Nurse with Mayo Clinic’s Trauma Center. 

Emanuel explained that the simulation could help people understand why the hands-free law is so important 

"I think just pointing out those small things that you may not realize when you are driving, like when you were driving on the simulator you crossed near or over the center line a few times, you stopped well short of stop signs,” he said.  “I think it's really the minor things that they don't realize when you point them out;'oh I made that many mistakes just by texting on my phone.’”

Emanuel hopes this type of education along with the new law will make a difference for Minnesotans on the road, "12 of 15 states that have collected data that have a hands-free law have shown a 15% decrease in fatalities in those states."

While the simulation feels like a game, he added that driving distracted on real roads is no joke. 

"I hope people take it seriously and make the right decisions and good choices when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle," said Emanuel.


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