Cell phone SDE

A participant held the phone close to the steering wheel, a popular method when trying to send texts on the simulated road in front of them during the Safe Driving Event on, Nov. 9, 2017.

With the holidays fast approaching, UCF students are already making plans to head home, whether they live four minutes away or four hours away.

UCF's Student Government Association, Student Health Services and Allstate partnered on Thursday to conduct the Safe Driving Event which was held at Memory Mall, focusing on the consequences of texting while driving and driving under the influence.

With more than 64,000 students at UCF, many of them commute to campus for class.

"We have an incredibly busy campus all the time; the area around UCF is always congested, there's always so many people," said SGA's Director of Campus Life Rachel Cohen. "We trying to educate students about what it's like when they're texting and driving and what it looks like from the outside and what the consequences are afterwards."

Allstate set up an area where participants would enter a vehicle with a simulation in the form of a large screen connected to the vehicular commands participants would input, such as pressing on the accelerator, braking, etc.

Participants were also handed a cell phone to text from while running the simulation. Another participant would be the "distractor" outside of the car with a tablet, texting the driver.

The simulator took into account the driver's speed in comparison to the speed limit, how many red lights they ran, troubles with steering and of course crashes, which would end the simulation.

Two screens were set up outside of the vehicle for onlookers to observe the texting between both driver and distractor and watch what was happening to the driver on the road.

"I don't want to experience that on the real roads, so it's good that we got to do a simulation," said freshman chemistry major Grace Harris, one of the first participants.

After the simulation, participants received a "ticket" for any violations they incurred during their time in the vehicle and also had a chance to take photos in place of a signature for a petition against texting and driving.

"I don't text and drive but I didn't expect to go down so quickly," said graduate modeling and simulation major Kamry Davis. Davis referenced a point during the simulation where she looked down at the phone and when she looked back up the car's windshield had broken.

Outside of the Allstate simulation, Student Health Services and officers from the UCF Police Department were on hand to answer any questions about driving under the influence and about campus programs with initiatives against drinking and driving. Pamphlets with information were set up under the booth, along with brochures for safe nighttime events student can attend on campus.

"We just want to bring awareness and we want it to be on the forefront of people's minds," UCFPD officer Frank Imparato said. "We don't want any empty seats at the holiday tables."

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