LIHUE — Distracted driving is terrifying, said Kauai High School student Samuel Gauna Wednesday during a virtual reality exercise at the school called “It Can Wait.”
“This was interesting,” Gauna said. “Whenever you pick up your phone (while driving), an obstacle pops up and you barely have time to stop in time. In the end, a car smashes into you. It’s terrifying.”
Gauna said his cousin was hit by a driver who was texting.
“He got hit and was in a coma for a couple of weeks,” Gauna said. “And when he came out of the coma, he can’t even walk. They don’t even know who the driver was.”
The Kauai High School Leadership Advocacy class, under Divina Plowman and student chair Atelaite Tangatailoa, hosted the event as part of this week’s Stop If You Love Me campaign to provide awareness about distracted driving and the dangers of texting while driving.
“We got ideas from different schools around the state,” said Tangatailoa. “Most of the events the Leadership Advocacy class works on preventative measures to keep everyone safe.”
Navaeh Cabebe-Yamamoto, a member of the class, said 11 teens die daily from distracted driving accidents.
Shaena Gomez, a senior at Kauai High School, said going through the exercise changed her perception about distracted driving.
“You can tell the difference,” she said. “This is, like, very relevant — it’s real life. Sometimes I do the distracted driving thing, but no. Uh-uh.”
Kane Casillas is still waiting for his birthday in October to get into the world of driving.
“This was interesting,” he said. “It was weird. I don’t know anyone who talks on the phone or texts while driving. But the cars today have Bluetooth. I think that helps, but it might also create accidents. I’m definitely not going to text and drive.”
Gauna said he doesn’t know anyone who gets distracted while driving, either.
“My mom will have me text while driving,” he said. “I’m working toward my driver’s license and I’m definitely not going to do any of this.”