Arkansas legislators participated in a texting-while-driving simulation at the state Capitol on Monday in an effort to raise awareness on the dangers of distracted driving.
Capitol officials and area residents would enter the simulator, put on a virtual-reality mask and steer through a city street while texting and attempting to avoid injury.
Meanwhile, those outside the simulator watched the action on a separate screen.
Rep. David Fielding, D-5, was a key advocate of the simulator's appearance in at the Capitol. Fielding is sponsoring House Bill 1394, which aims to deter texting while driving through stricter penalties as well as provide education and further testing on the subject.
"This is something that I felt that is a real serious offense," Fielding said, adding that the first attempt to get the legislation through failed in the committee. He's filed it a second time last week and he's waiting on a response.
Merry Dye, a volunteer from Rogers who has assisted in various texting-while-driving events across the state, is here for a personal cause. Dye lost her daughter, Mariah West, after she was killed in accident texting while driving.
"I've made it my mission, after this happened to our family, that no other parent has to go through that," Dye said. "It has become such an epidemic in our country. It's a very seductive technology and it hit us by surprise. We try and talk about it, but it becomes that conditioned response. You hear that bell go off and even though you know this really isn't a good idea, the first thing you do is, it rings, and you've got to see, who is it?"
The simulator, which is co-sponsored by AT&T and select legislators, has also appeared in Mena, Springdale and Gravette.