WINGATE, N.C. -- Wingate University students are getting a firsthand look at how dangerous texting while driving can be.

We're bringing awareness of texting and driving and how deadly it is, said Robert Tower, who works with PEER Awareness, a company that operates full-sized driving simulators.

Wednesday, one of those simulators was on Wingate's campus, and it allowed students to see whether they could safely text while driving.

You've got [sensors] on the gas, the brake the steering, on the headset. It's got everything. Any kind of movements that they kind of make, I'll be able to find out how bad they're actually doing on the computer itself, Tower explained.

The simulator shows how your taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds at 55-miles per hour can be deadly. At that speed, you would have traveled the length of a football field practically blind.

Sophomore William Lewis found that out firsthand. As soon as he started texting, he crashed the simulator into a virtual construction zone.

Every one of the students that tried the simulator had the same results

[You] ran into a tree on the shoulder, explained Towers to another student driver.

[The simulator is] pretty interesting I guess. [It] shows the realities and dangers of driving while texting, said junior Kyle Ward. Just that split second of taking your eyes off the road. That's just how fast you can skid off the road like I did.

Wingate University says the goal is to teach students about all different type of distractions, not just those that come from cell phones, but even those that come from the radio, or even backseat passengers.

Anytime you take your eyes off the road, you know it heightens the chance that something can come out in front of you or that it delays your reaction time, said Wingate counselor Jessica Hylton. You can have a reaction time as a young person that is equal to that of an elderly driver. [Distractions] just put you at higher risk for any type of accident.

In North Carolina, texting while driving has been illegal for about a year. So far, about 1,200 tickets have been written for drivers that were caught texting while behind the wheel.

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