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Video Game Helps Distracted Teens Drive Safer

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(credit: Susan Plank/MGN Online)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A video game developed by the University of Minnesota is teaching teens the consequences of distracted driving.

The internet-based game called “Distraction Dodger” was developed by the U’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute.

“This is a video game, but the choices presented in the game are true to life,” said ITS Director Max Donath.

In the video game, players drive a pizza delivery car in the city of Little Moots. While they deliver pizza they’re encouraged to use a smart phone, social media and a GPS to build their business and get points.

At the same time, they need to avoid obstacles such as traffic tickets, damage to the car and pedestrians.

“One of the issues that teenagers don’t often recognize is they’re being distracted,” said Donath. “When teens are driving they can often take their eyes off the road. Often times they just have no clue about how much limitations they have on their ability to multitask.”

The creators of the game unveiled it on Thursday at the Teen Safe Driving Summit in Rosemount.

According to the National Safety Council, distractions are the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes.

As players progress through “Distraction Dodgerm,” feedback is offered about driving performance. Some said the feedback can be an eye opener.

“The No. 1 goal is that kids should begin to appreciate that driving is a complex activity,” said Donath. “There are lots of things going on when you’re driving and you need to pay attention, you need to stop texting, you need to stop being distracted and focus on the goal at hand.”

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