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Texting and Driving Simulator stops at MPH Saturday

— Area teens will get to experience firsthand the perils of distracted driving next Saturday, April 28. Manlius Pebble Hill School will let them take a spin on the Texting and Driving Simulator, being toured nationally by the PEERS Foundation, an advocacy group dedicated to youth and teen safety.

MPH is bringing the simulator to its DeWitt campus with support and partial funding from the Town of DeWitt Police Department, the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Safety Program/New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, and Liberty Mutual.

From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, area teens will get to “test drive” the simulator. They will sit behind the wheel of an actual vehicle wearing goggles that present distracted and impaired driving situations on a virtual road. Teens will try to control the car under these conditions.

“The increase in teenage texting and driving is a major threat to teen drivers – and to literally everyone else on the road,” said Martha Cameron, director of community programs at MPH. “We’re bringing the texting simulator to Syracuse because, all over the country, this innovative technology is proving to be one of the most effective ways to drive home that message.”

According to the PEERS Foundation, the risk of a crash or near crash is 1.3 times greater when the driver is talking or listening on a cell phone. The risk is 23.2 times greater when the driver is text messaging.

Cameron directs the MPH driver education program, which enrolls new drivers from all over Central New York. She says MPH is offering the simulator experience at no charge because “learning to drive isn’t just about learning how to parallel park or make a left hand turn. It’s also about behaving responsibly while you’re behind the wheel. It’s about realizing that talking on a cell phone or reading emails or sending a text is just not worth the consequence.”