ST. LOUIS — A man who lost his daughter to distracted driving is helping bring a texting-and-driving simulator to local high schools in the hopes that it will save lives.
In 2019, 20-year-old Kaela Marie Archambault died when she crashed head-on into a school bus while driving distracted, according to a press release. Her father, Shawn Archambault, created the KMA Foundation in her memory, an organization that advocates for safer driving and road improvement in Missouri.
Just after the ninth anniversary of his daughter's death, Archambault's foundation is working together with other local organizations to bring a Michigan-based simulator to Missouri schools.
It's called the PEERS Foundation's Augmented Reality Distracted Driving Education Simulator (ARDDES). Students will get into a real car and simulate driving it while wearing an augmented reality headset. Drivers can see oncoming cars and pedestrians through the windows and in their mirrors.
They can safely see what it's like to drive while texting, talking on the phone, turning the radio or other distractions. Each student's drive will be broadcast on a big screen for other students.
"Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for youth ages 15 to 20 in Missouri, and a whopping fifty percent of Missouri's teen drivers admit to texting while driving," said PEERS Foundation CEO Mike Seymore in a press release.
"Students have always heard the details of a fatal accident caused by distracted driving and how it has affected the loved ones left behind during the ARDDES presentation. We feel that sharing Kaela's story and having her father present at each event to share his experience will certainly bring home the reality of how dangerous distracted driving is."
The KMA Foundation will also give a $500 scholarship to one student from each school.
The simulator has already gone to Northwest Hight School and is scheduled to come to Crystal City High School, Windsor High School and Grandview R2 High School.
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