Virtual reality used to teach against distracted driving

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) College students were getting a strong lesson against texting and driving in Blacksburg. It's thanks to virtual reality offered on campus in the school's engineering expo.

The VR was provided by AT&T, which just opened a location in Blacksburg.

Students sat down, put on a virtual reality headset, and experienced first hand what happens when they look away from the road.

The virtual reality was part of the It Can Wait campaign, trying to show people why they shouldn't look at their phones.

The person drives through neighborhoods, highways, and even experiences a pretty nasty crash.

Mehrzad Taherzadehroungin, a third year PHD student from Iran exclaimed afterwards, "Wow! It was so stressful and I nearly killed a lot of people. Don't do it!"

Arnav Agrawal, a Virginia Tech Freshman from India added, "I did understand how bad it can be because we he did look at his phone, he did not look at the road and I practically couldn't see anything on the road, which would have been really bad."

But people have heard for years not to text and drive. So why does the company think virtual reality will get the message across better.

Adam Arno is a Sales Representative at the new AT&T store in Blacksburg.

He said, "These kids have grown up with the technology, so why not deliver it to what they grown up to be. Nothing really educates better than the real experience, in my opinion."

AT&T said they've had 20 million people sign a pledge not to use a device while driving. But is that realistic?

Derrick Ampaw is a Virginia Tech Freshman from Centreville.

He said, "When I text and drive, I think it's not going to happen to me, but it could happen to anyone. That's definitely going to stop me from doing it."

Even Agrawal, who doesn't drive, says when he gets a license, he'll remember this.

"I'm never going to do that, I'm never going to text and drive," he said.

The company said it's research showed 7-in-10 drivers are using their phones behind the wheel.

And it's not just texting, it's checking email, posting to social, and even taking selfies!

The virtual reality was at both days of the expo, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But if you want to experience the 360 degree video AT&T offered, click here.

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