Durham students learn the dangers of texting while driving

(Derrick Lewis | CBS North Carolina)

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — John Batey virtually died in a car accident Monday.

It was part of a texting while driving simulator that students at Hillside High School in Durham participated in Monday.

“It’s like interesting how I was able to actually see, because I’ve never been in an accident before, so to see what it’s like actually being in an accident,” said the senior.

Batey looked down at his phone several times during the simulation. It was an easy distraction, he said.

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“It was just the noise that was kind of distracting me,” he said. “Every time it rang, I wanted to see what it was, but I knew I was driving so I couldn’t. “

In 2016, 177 people died in crashes in North Carolina that involved a distracted driver, state officials said. That’s a 9 percent increase from 2015.

When distracted driving does claim a life, high school officials are left trying to heal the community.

“To help heal a learning community when we find ourselves in situations like what’s presented behind us, where a student has lost his or her life,” said Hillsdale principal William Logan.

When Batey is in the car, he puts his phone in do-not-disturb mode, only allowing emergency calls.

“My mom, her phone call will come through, but like everything else, I don’t want a distraction because I’m driving and I value my life,” he said.

He also took a pledge not to text and drive.

If you’d like to learn more about the pledge or sign it, click here.

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