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Simulator course teaching teens dangers of distracted driving

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Summer marks what police and other agencies call the "100 Most Deadly Driving Days" for teens. The Auburn Police Department is using a new tool to teach young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. (Photo: KOMO News)

AUBURN, Wash. - Summer marks what police and other agencies call the "100 Most Deadly Driving Days" for teens. The Auburn Police Department is now using a new tool to teach young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving.

"It's the 100 days between school lets out and school starts again. We have all these student drivers on the road," said Auburn Police Sgt. Brian Williams.

Officers teamed up with AT&T's "It Can Wait" program on Wednesday for a virtual simulation course for teen drivers. The program uses a steering wheel video game console and special goggles to simulate what can happen when you drive distracted.

"I just got hit by a red car as I was going through the intersection," said one teen.

Police said summer is a dangerous time for teens behind the wheel. They said they hope the program will show the young drivers what can happen when they drive distracted.

"I almost hit a kid and his dad," said another teen driver who was wearing the goggles.

Nicole Teague, 16, said she just started driving a few days ago, and has already learned a priceless lesson.

"I have not picked up my phone," said Teague. " It takes just two seconds to accidentally run into someone if you're looking down."

It is already illegal to talk on the phone or text while driving in Washington.

A revised version of our state's distracted driving law goes into effect late next month. Under the new law, drivers are banned from using any handheld gadgets such as phones, tablets, laptop computers and gaming devices while behind the wheel, even at a stop sign or stop light.

"We're so addicted to that little piece of machinery that we can hold in our hands, so many of us," said Gina Bagnariol-Benavides, who sister was killed last July by a distracted driver. "Put your phone away."

Auburn Police plan to hold another distracted driving simulator course on July 19. Contact Auburn Police to sign up at 253-931-3080.