MANSFIELD (CBS 11 NEWS) – Watching through special goggles attached to a high-tech simulator, high school senior Tyera Breeze had what would be an important experience. “This is life-changing,” she said.

Breeze entered a car that simulates drunk driving, and quickly discovered – just how dangerous it could be. “It was scary, because I was like, ‘I don’t have control of the vehicle,’” she said. “I’m hitting people. I just killed somebody. I’ve got this citation now. It was kind of scary.”

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The teenager was among 250 high school students in the Mansfield Independent School District who took part in the UNITE Arrive Alive event.

The students’ lessons went beyond just driving simulations. They also spoke one-on-one with officers from the Mansfield Police Department, nurses, judges, and even a funeral director.

The messages were supposed to encourage the students to not only avoid drinking and driving, but also to stop driving distracted and doing things like text from behind the wheel.

“The statistics are alarming. Far more people are being affected by texting and driving than drinking and driving,” Mansfield ISD Area Superintendent Lamar Goree said.

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While the program used simulators, impact video, and other resources to educate students on the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving, there were some smiles and laughs Monday.

Casey Brooks, 18, was one of those who took warnings seriously. In October of 2011, his best friend and another pal survived a crash that killed two other classmates in Grand Prairie, near 360 and Timberview. “They were distracted for an instance and they were swerved and hit a tree and ejected from the car,” he explained.

Casey’s wake-up call is now an urgent warning to others: “The three people you have in the car with you don’t want to die today, because you had to get that text message back saying, ‘I’ll see ya in a minute.’”

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, drivers under 20 years of age text more than any other age group and have the highest proportion of fatal distraction-related crashes.

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