Alabaster teens texting and driving skills put to the test - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Alabaster teens texting and driving skills put to the test

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Despite what many people believe, particularly teenagers, studies performed by UAB researchers show that phone use is hazardous, whether it's held in your hand or up to your ear. We asked local teen, Jordan Lamb to put her so-called skills to the test.

"I probably would have killed him if that was real life," said Lamb.

The 17 year-old got a virtual life lesson on texting and driving.

Lamb said, "I'm swerving because I am trying to read this message."

It was a crash course, that Jennifer Warren hopes will teach her daughter to focus her attention where it should be, the road.

"That was scary to watch." said Warren, "I felt helpless, just like if I am at home, I can't tell her  here comes a car or you are going in the other lane."

Dr. Despina Stavrinos, a researcher at UAB  uses the simulator to measure distracted driving. So far, a couple hundred teens have gotten behind the wheel.

" We started to ask teens as they came into our studies how frequently they text and drive, the results were staggering when they were reporting several hundred texts per day, when they are behind the wheel." said Stavrinos,  "That is pretty much the entire time they are in the car."

There are two cameras on the simulator, focusing on Jordan's eyes. When she got a text, she looked away for at least 2 seconds, even longer when she responded. She crashed 17 times.

Before taking the virtual trip, she thought she was good at texting and driving.

"You can see all of that stuff but until you actually experience it, it's not something you pay attention to as much," said Lamb.

Last year in Alabama there were 274 crashes caused by young-adults between 16-and-20 years old, who were using a cell phone or texting.

" It takes your eyes off the road, it takes your hands off the wheel, and it takes your mind off of the road." Stavrinos said,  "That is why we as researchers call texting and driving the perfect storm, because it involves all three of those domains of distraction."

Jordan is one of the lucky ones, seeing the consequences first hand without having to experience them.

"I used to do it and not think anything of it. Now I know things could always happen and I could hit somebody because people don't watch, obviously like I am not watching," said Lamb.

"I hope that is a wake up call to her, cause it sure was to me and that she could take this and pass it on to her friends," said Warren.

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