BRISTOL -- Allstate's Reality Rides simulator made a stop at the Rockwell Park Summer Festival in Bristol Saturday, to teach people the dangers of distracted driving.
The Reality Rides simulator is a stationary vehicle with a virtual reality curved LED screen across the windshield, displaying animated scenarios drivers often encounter. Using the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, operators try to navigate those situations while also attempting to text message, answer phone calls or use in-car technology like GPS.
People drive the simulator while they answer a text on their phone. Citations are issued for all of the traffic rules that were broken. For a first offense in Connecticut, it can cost $150 for texting while driving.
Mark Rebb, a Middlebury driver who was at the event, said he once swerved out of his lane trying to answer a text.
"Now I've made a commitment that I'm not touching the phone while driving," he said after using the simulator.
According to Allstate four billion dollars a year are attributed to auto accidents and distracted driving.
"3500 deaths in the last 3 years, up 10 percent," said Dave Andes, who owns an Allstate in Bristol.
The tour’s message is especially important, as safety experts estimate more than 40,000 people died in car crashes in the U.S. in 2016, making it potentially the deadliest year on America’s roads since 2007.
The company wants to remind everyone to not text while driving, and instead pull over to the side of the road and respond or use a hands free set in your car to make phone calls.
First timer of the Reality Rides will feature a virtual pledge wall displaying participants’ photos, as a demonstration of their support for Allstate’s X the TXT movement in which drivers pledge to not text behind the wheel. Participants may pledge to X the TXT at Reality Rides events, or by liking the X the TXT Facebook page.