PROVO — High school students in Provo learned Monday just how dangerous the distraction a cell phone can be while driving.
AT&T shared its "It Can Wait" distracted driving campaign at Independence High School in hopes of preventing students from getting into the bad habit of using their phones while they are driving.
The campaign aims to help young drivers understand the consequences of being distracted in a simulator, so they will avoid it in real life.
"It is one of those things that they need to learn really quickly," said school Principal Chris Sorensen, "and hopefully in a better way than a bad way. To have this simulator to help them learn is a great opportunity."
Students learned not to text and drive, and to be aware of their surroundings.
"You can hurt people around you even if you are not trying to," one student observed.
Fifty percent of people admit to texting while driving, according to Tara Thue of AT&T. She said the number is even higher for high school students.
"We have heard that 75 percent of high school students admit to using their phones while driving. So, we want to make sure the message is getting to the right people," she said.
Adults frequently admit to using smartphones while driving and are just as easily distracted, Thue said.
"As we use our phones for more and more things in our lives, they become more integrated into our daily lives. It is even more important to put the phone down and remain from getting distracted when you are behind the wheel," she said.
Distracted driving killed 3,477 people in the U.S. in 2015 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. It also said, "Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed."
More information about the campaign is available at www.itcanwait.com.
Contributing: Linda Williams, KSL.com