See consequences of distracted driving in a virtual setting

For the first time, Oculus Rift is being used to educate about distracted driving at SXSW (Amanda Dugan/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Distracted driving on the roads has become an issue. Teaching many the importance of paying attention when behind the wheel is a way to not only save your life but others as well. This year, Toyota is teaching South by Southwest festival-goers the dangers of distracted driving. People can get behind the wheel of a stationary car, put on the Oculus Rift headset, and become fully immersed in a virtual reality driving experience.

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During the simulation, you are challenged to drive safely using the car’s steering wheel and pedals — while navigating a series of common distractions, including traffic noises, the radio, text messages and virtual friends who occupy the passenger and back seats. Lose your focus, and you’ll experience the consequences of distracted driving within the virtual setting. Those a part of the project are hoping to reach out to people from all generations.

In the past year, over 10,000 people have checked out the distracted driving program. Nearly 80 percent say that they would change their habits after taking part in the program.

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