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Donations provide simulator to help educate teen drivers

The dangers of distracted or impaired driving is too many times an experience that many people learn too late. But with special equipment purchased by Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger, area students can learn the dangers firsthand without injury.

“Distracted driving is the number one cause of teen deaths in the country. I tell the students, ‘this is the only time you can be distracted or impaired while driving and be totally safe,’” said Deborah Erdman, Geisinger Trauma Outreach/Injury Prevention Coordinator. “The new virtual driving simulator, called One Simple Decision, allows us to demonstrate these dangers and allows the students to see the consequences of their behavior. ”

The simulator consists of a table mounted steering wheel, pedals and a large monitor. A typical session on the simulator takes about 10 to 15 minutes, consisting of a practice drive, an impaired drive and a distracted drive.

Videos play at the end of each drive. Scenarios range from the driver seeing a firsthand account of a medical team working on them after a crash to the driver going through court sentencing and incarceration.

Erdman will use the simulator when she visits students at area high schools to explain the risks of distracted driving. The simulator will be part of her presentation called, “Impact Teen Drivers: What Do You Consider Lethal,” a program that aims to reduce teen accidents.

“The simulator costs nearly $12,000 and would not have been possible without the help of Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger,” Erdman added.