CSUB students drive through distracted driving course

The California Highway Patrol says distracted driving took the lives of nearly a dozen people in the Central Valley last year.
BAKERSFIELD, CA - A local and statewide campaign to curb cell phone use while driving, continued Thursday morning at Cal State Bakersfield. Students got a firsthand look at the dire consequences of sending a text message behind the wheel.

"The purpose of the distracted driving obstacle course was just to show that even if you're slightly distracted, whether you're taking your phone out or answering a phone call, or sending a text or maybe you're having a conversation in the car, that it can distract you," said CHP Officer Robert Rodriguez.

Students drove through the course without any distractions. The second time, they were told to do it while texting or talking on their their cell phones.

"After texting it was, it was scarier, like a few of us hit the same cone which in our mind is like you're hitting someone," said Paola Becerra, a CSUB senior.

"But by the second time, texting definitely distracted me. I felt that the curves and being aware of the stop signs and where the pedestrians where assigned, it was too much to be taking in while driving," said CSUB junior, Ricardo Perez.

According to the CHP, in 2013 there were 416 accidents throughout the Central Valley where distracted driving played a role. Of those, eleven were fatal.

To bring awareness to distracted driving, during the month of April, local law enforcement will have zero tolerance for distracted driving.

Since April 1st, the CHP has cited at least 100 drivers for using their cell phones. The BPD had issued 14 through Wednesday.

CSUB students say the obstacle course put into perspective just how dangerous using a cell phone while driving is.

"It can happen so fast. That sharp corner over there, in a split second you can hurt someone," said Perez.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, three seconds of texting while driving at freeway speeds is equal to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
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