By Edward Cardenas

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – Teens and their parents can virtually learn the dangers of distracted driving at Toyota’s display at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center.

The TeenDrive365 distracted driving simulator uses Oculus Rift virtual reality technology to provide drivers a simulated experience of driving through a city with a variety distractions

Drivers get behind the wheel of a modified Toyota Corolla and are immersed in the virtual reality setting through a headset and headphones which provides the three-dimensional experience while using the car’s steering wheel and pedals.

Those taking part in the simulator will encounter a number of distractions including changing the radio stations, replying to text messages and interacting with virtual friends who occupy the passenger and back seats.

“We are really focusing on the safety of parents behind the wheel, and their teens,” said Marjorie Schussel, Corporate Marketing Director for Toyota, of the latest component of the TeenDrive365 program. “It has a profound impact on the way people see themselves in the future and drive in the future.”

In addition to providing the reality driving experience to drivers, it also shows the consequences of distracted driving. Drivers who take their eyes off the road may cause an accident, but being virtual reality, nobody is hurt.

There is also a vending machine with giveaways to teens who make a commitment to safe driving.

This is the first time Oculus Rift – which features 360-degree head tracking and 3D images – has been used to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving, Schussel stated.

“Parents are such a critical role model for their  children behind the wheel,” Schussel said. “It is really up to us as parents to model great behavior behind the wheel … our kids are watching us every step of the way.”

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