Texting while driving? This AT&T simulator will scare the crap out of you

Less than 30 seconds into my drive this morning, I had driven on the wrong side of the road twice, traveled at 20 miles an hour over the speed limit, and smacked my car into an unsuspecting dog that was trying to cross the street — just so I could send a text message telling my friend that I was on my way.

Garfield High School student Matt Evans tries the simulator.

Fortunately, it was a virtual reality simulator, and not a real drive down the road. And to be frank, it was much harder to drive while peering into those VR spectacles than it is with a larger field of view through its windshield.

But the takeaway was clear: If you’re still texting while driving, it’s extraordinarily risky, and the consequences are life-altering — and potentially life-ending.

That was the message from AT&T today as the company brought the simulator to Seattle’s Garfield High School, where students lined up to give it a try and sign a pledge to not text and drive.

It was part of the wireless company’s “It Can Wait” campaign. Among the solutions highlighted by the company is its free “DriveMode” app for Android and BlackBerry, that responds automatically to texts or emails when the user is driving.

See highlights from some of the students in the video above.

As it happens, Monica Guzman’s GeekWire column this week is about her struggle with this very topic. After she filed the piece, we suggested that she come out to the Garfield event to give the simulator a try. See her column for her take on the issue, with a video showing how she fared.