The Drive to Disconnect: Distractology
By Arden Y.
From February 4th through 8th, students at Duxbury High School had the opportunity to participate in Distractology. Distractology is a simulator where one sits in a makeshift car seat. The seat is equipped with a steering wheel and a blinker that allows the user to control the car on the digital screen. The main goal of Distractology was for students to learn how to drive safely and to avoid distractions.
It is much like the classic video game Pole Position, but with better graphics.
Distractology simulated what it’s like to drive while not paying attention to the road. Some of the exercises included texting while driving, listening to music, and not paying attention to street signs. The experience lasted 45 minutes and was supervised by an instructor.
Senior Ronnie B. had some things to say about the different simulations. “People drill ‘don’t text and drive’ into our heads but they don’t really talk about switching songs on the radio, which can be just as harmful” she said. “The worst [simulation] was the crosswalk one where you hit a pedestrian, because watching that woman get demolished by my fake vehicle was traumatizing”.
Junior Callie R. said “I thought it was really stressful. When I was texting while driving it was stressful not to look at the screen because I didn’t know where I was going”.
According to their website; Distractology was “created based on research conducted by the Human Performance Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.”
Many students here at DHS used the Distractology simulator. It was held in the company’s van that was parked right outside the high school entrance during last week.
Junior Bella C. had mixed feelings about the experience. “[Distractology] didn’t seem like a real life situation”, she said, “doing it made me very nervous”.
Ronnie also had positive and negative opinions on the simulation.
“I thought it was very necessary to remind me and other students what the consequences can be of not paying attention,” Ronnie said, “however, the simulation is designed to make you fail and the operator made me feel bad about crashing, which was semi off putting. It was anxiety inducing but that’s the point so I think it was effective”.
At the end of the session, the student was given a $15 gas gift card and a link to take a “challenge,” which was a 10 minute informational online course. When completed, the student could enter to receive a scholarship, and they would also receive a certificate.
“I liked the gas gift card, that was a nice perk” Bella said “however, I would not play the game again”.
Despite the mixed reactions; there was no doubt that the lesson helped to prepare future drivers for various situations.
“I think [now] I’ll be more aware of what I’m doing when I’m driving” Callie said.