A Distracted Driving Game

Scott Benjamin

Charles Rombold, a University of Kansas junior, acknowledges he sometimes messages friends while driving. He's not alone: With 255 million cell phones nationwide, nearly three-quarters of their owners report that they're in use while driving. (AP Photo

About a month ago, I posted a link to an interactive map from The New York Times that illustrated exactly where cars and trucks are built in the United States. I thought it was an interesting map because it also let you know if the vehicle was built in a union or non-union plant and where the engine and transmission originated, too. Well, the folks at The New York Times have done it again. This time it's a distracted driving game.

Actually, this driving game measures your reaction time and how it's affected as you attempt to multitask from the driver's seat. The distraction in this case is texting while driving. There's no need for me to describe for you exactly how to play -- the rules of the game are clearly spelled out in six "simple" steps that you can review prior to pressing the Start Game button. Go ahead, give it a shot. How hard could it be? Heck, you even get 20 seconds to practice your lane changes ahead of time.

I found this game to be extremely challenging. Actually, frustrating is probably a better word choice. I'm not going to lie to you: My results were terrible. And no, I'm not sharing just how bad they were. I thought the gates were easy, but when the text messages started arriving, well, that's when things started to fall apart. But that's the whole point, right? It lets you (safely) realize your limitations.

What did I get from this simulation? Well, it shows me that I shouldn't ever attempt to drive and text at the same time. I never have (not even once), and I never will. I'm waiting for the next game where I'm sure to score much higher. You know, the one where you're driving a manual transmission car around a series of complex turns and negotiating traffic while holding a 44 oz. drink between your legs (because your car doesn't have any drink holders) all while trying to talk on the phone and eat a Big Mac and fries. I bet I could ace that one. Just a feeling...

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