(CNN) — You know you’re not supposed to do it, but taking your eyes off the road — even for just a moment — can have a devastating impact.
Reporter Sandra Endo spoke to a woman who experienced that impact firsthand, and is now raising awareness.
“I was in a really bad accident. I hit the back of a tractor-trailer that had a fork lift on it, and I’ve had over 20 surgeries to repair my face,” 24-year-old Amanda Kloehr explains.
“I lost an eye, snapped an ankle. I have 36 plates and 48 screws in the right side of my face. I had to learn how to re-walk and I was in a coma.”
“I was distracted, I was texting and playing with my phone,” Kloehr admits.
Kloehr was like many teens, who are five times more likely to text and drive. That’s according to the cell phone industry, which has teamed up with the government to promote awareness.
“Teens have higher tendency to take more risks behind the wheel. We all know that,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.
“And because they do live a connected lifestyle, it’s being able to sort of break that cultural mores of it’s okay, it can wait, you put it down.”
A Department of Transportation report shows that sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for nearly five seconds.
And at a speed of 55 mph, that’s blindly driving the length of an entire football field.
Endo got behind the wheel of a simulator that does much more than teach the rules of the road. It also teaches repercussions.
“$2,000 to fix my car. Oh, my goodness,” she remarks, after crashing while trying to text and drive.
“You now have to live through a first-person experience of going in front of an actual judge and being arraigned and being sentenced for what you did,” Virtual Driver Interactive CEO Bob Davis explains.
“That’s not a comfortable feeling. And people going through this really remember that feeling.”
For someone who has experienced the worst, Kloehr has this message for young drivers:
“Whatever it is that you want to do that’s a distraction, can wait. It’s not worth it. You never ever want to know what it feels like to be in my shoes and my kind of lucky.”