Dangers of texting and driving shown through AT&T's virtual real - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Dangers of texting and driving shown through AT&T's virtual reality driving simulator

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH (WMBF) - From text messages, phone calls, and social media notifications, AT&T’S driving simulator showed test drivers just how distracting smart phones can be behind the wheel and the outcome isn't a good one.

New research from AT&T shows nearly 4-in-10 users tap into social media while driving, almost 3-in-10 surf the net, and 1-in-10 video chat.

“I couldn't believe how many times that this person picked up the phone! As soon as it rang!” Jim Hayes said.

Through the driving simulator, drivers were placed in Dallas, Texas. The driver in the test was driving through residential neighborhoods to major highways.

The driver picked up a smart phone up several times, taking their eyes off the road. Test drivers, had no control and were just in it for the ride.

“He’s on his phone again. We are about to hit kids on a bike!” Lisa Gresci said.

“It came up between the steering wheel. So the driver looked down at it,” Hayes explained.

In those seconds, the driver nearly crashed into children crossing on a crosswalk, bicyclists, a father with a baby stroller, and finally the driver did crash.

“That’s all it took,” Hayes said.

One of the people behind passing the texting and driving law in South Carolina, Senator Greg Hembree, got behind the wheel too.

“Naturally your eyes go down to that phone, and then you look up and there's a jogger in front of you. Or a car or something. It's a, it's very much real life,” Hembree described.

This is much more than a "test drive" for these test drivers. They've seen the reality of texting and driving. For Jim Hayes it was a young girl he knew.

“She just got out of school, about two miles from the high school. She hit a pole. Dead center, got killed immediately,” Hayes explained.

For Senator Hembree, it is what he's witnessed in his 25 years as a prosecutor.

“I've talked to families who've lost children, and people who've lost spouses,  as a result of it, and when you've had those experiences, it will give you a different view, it's not just somebody else, you've seen the consequences, how real they are, how terrible,” Hembree said.

Many feel the solution is easy.

“You know you get a phone call in the car…just let it ring,” Hayes said.

Senator Hembree believes we are still in the beginning stages of the texting and driving laws and expects changes to the law to make it easier to enforce in the coming years.

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