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AT&T's 'It Can Wait' virtual reality simulator showcases dangers of distracted driving as part of AAA's '100 Deadliest Days'

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Sat, Jun 3rd 2017 11:20 am
The press conference outside of AAA on Thursday. (Photo by DJ Kuenzi)
The press conference outside of AAA on Thursday. (Photo by DJ Kuenzi)
Jacobs & Ranzenhofer, AAA WCNY, AT&T, NYS Police team up to host Distracted Driving Awareness Day in Western New York
New York State Sens. Chris Jacobs and Michael Ranzenhofer, AAA Western and Central New York, New York State Police and AT&T teamed up Thursday to raise awareness for AAA's "100 Deadliest Days" (the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb 15 percent compared to the rest of the year), as well as AT&T's "It Can Wait" public education campaign and state distracted driving laws.
 
Distracted Driving Awareness Day in Western New York was hosted June 1 at AAA WCNY headquarters in Amherst. Young drivers, parents and all those who visited AAA were educated about the dangers of distracted driving.
 
The goal of Distracted Driving Awareness Day in Western New York was to educate and remind all drivers that a post, a selfie, a text, a scroll, an email - one look when behind the wheel is all it takes to lose a life. Research shows 7 in 10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving, and 1 in 10 motorists have even video chatted while driving.
 
The day also stressed that summer months bring more motorcyclists, young drivers, bicyclists, farm vehicles and construction workers to the roads, and more pedestrians to the sidewalks, making roadways more dangerous. Drivers need to be more aware and eliminate all distractions when behind the wheel.
 
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's latest study, ?Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age," analyzed crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that, for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:
  • 3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash
  • 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash
  • 4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash
  • 3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash
 
To help drive home the message of the dangers of distracted driving, visitors were able to test-drive AT&T's virtual reality "It Can Wait" simulators set up at AAA, which allow users to experience in 3-D just how dangerous it can be when one drives and takes their eyes off the road to look at a smartphone.
 
In addition, the New York State Police provided driving safety tips for the warmer weather, clarified laws pertaining to distracted driving, and discussed the devastating dangers associated with this behavior.
 
AAA driving instructors offered tips and literature on how to avoid distracted driving.
 
Additionally, AT&T announced during the event that a recent study conducted by the company showed 95 percent of drivers disapprove of distracted driving, yet 71 percent engage in smartphones while driving; and 57 percent of drivers say they would stop using their phone behind the wheel if asked by a friend or loved one, underscoring the importance of public education.
 
To help those drivers who can't resist their phones, AT&T offers a free app, DriveMode, for smartphones, which deactivates texting and other alerts when the car is moving. It sends a friendly away message to incoming communication.
 
Jacobs has been a longtime champion of combating distracted driving and keeping Western New York roads safer, a mission he began as Erie County clerk, and one that he continues to support today in Albany.
 
Ranzenhofer is a notable supporter of distracted driving safety initiatives.
 
"Alarmingly, 7 in 10 drivers engage in some sort of smartphone activity and oftentimes these actions can have deadly consequences," Jacobs said. "I'm proud to join AT&T, AAA Western and Central New York and the New York State Police to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and remind everyone that your text, call, social media post or selfie can wait."
 
Ranzenhofer said, "Every summer, we read about serious injuries and tragic deaths as a result of accidents involving distracted driving, and each one of these incidents can be prevented. By raising awareness about the '100 Deadliest Days,' we can save lives. I applaud AAA, AT&T and the State Police for their efforts."
 
"Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer this summer," said Tony Spada, president and CEO, AAA Western and Central New York. "It all starts with educating teens about safety on the road and modeling good behavior, like staying off the phone and buckling your safety belt."
 
"Driving is a major part of our everyday lives and people are passionate about smartphone communications. But using your smartphone for activities like messaging or social posts while driving is very dangerous for everyone on the road, and why the company is so dedicated to our 'It Can Wait' campaign," said Kevin Hanna, AT&T director of external affairs. "AT&T is proud to be working with Sen. Jacobs, Sen. Ranzenhofer, AAA and New York State Police to raise awareness of the dangers and help people change their behavior in Western New York by encouraging drivers to keep their eyes on the road and not on their phone."
 
"We just entered the '100 Deadliest Days,' the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb," said Elizabeth Carey, director, public relations for AAA WCNY. "Since teens drive more during the summer than any other season, this is a timely reminder to everyone -drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists - to be mindful when sharing the roads with young drivers."
 
"Mobile and smart phones are a way of life, but when driving on the roadways you may take a life by answering a text or using social media," said Major Steven Nigrelli, New York State Police - Troop A commander. "Help make our roads safe by keeping your eyes on the road and not on your phone."
 
For the rest of the summer, AAA will feature a special "It Can Wait" pledge board. The partnering organizations are encouraging all visitors to sign the pledge to keep their eyes on the road and not on their phone.
 
For additional information on AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign, visit www.ItCanWait.com. AAA also offers TeenDriving.AAA.com, which provides a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches, as well as advice on how to manage their teen's overall driving privileges.

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