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Sen. Kennedy, AAA WCNY, AT&T, NYS Police team up to call attention to Distracted Driving Awareness Month

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Tue, Apr 16th 2019 09:30 am

AT&T and AAA release alarming distracted driving statistics that reveal attitudes toward dangers of distracted driving are softening, and behaviors getting worse

Submitted by AT&T

New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy, an early champion of addressing distracted driving issues and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, AT&T, AAA Western and Central New York and New York State Police teamed up to raise awareness for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, AAA’s “100 Deadliest Days” (the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb); the AT&T “It Can Wait” campaign; and state distracted driving laws; all the while providing tips and precautions for busy the Easter holiday travel period.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which highlights the dangers of distracted driving. The local event’s purpose 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. The message is especially vital as families head out on Easter road trips. Drivers are encouraged make a family pact to not drive distracted.

Kennedy, in partnership with AAA, AT&T and NYS Police, also challenged all drivers of Western New York to take the pledge to keep their eyes on the road and not on their phone – and he encouraged all drivers to be extra vigilant to avoid distracted driving every day.

New research by AT&T shows attitudes toward the dangers of distracted driving are softening, and the behaviors are getting worse. And it’s not just in cars anymore. It now includes new forms of transportation such as e-scooters and motorized bikes. The research shows seven in 10 drivers say their smartphone has become essential for getting around; 86% of car-share drivers use their smartphone while driving; and also revealed a sharp rise in the consumption of immersive content behind the wheel. Video watching and video chatting while driving doubled compared to 2015. Studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported more than 87.5 percent of drivers view distracted drivers as a bigger problem today than in past years.

The AAA research also found that potentially unsafe mental distractions can persist for as long as 27 seconds after drivers send a text message. At 25 mph, drivers travel the length of nearly three football fields during this time. AAA urges drivers to put down their phone and avoid distractions when behind the wheel, especially now during April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month. AAA is out with a new safety education campaign, “Don’t Drive Intoxicated, Don’t Drive Intexticated,” created to make distracted driving socially unacceptable like drunk driving has become.

Additional AAA research also shows drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times as likely to crash while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash. Despite the risk, 49 percent of drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone while driving and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email. This behavior contradicts the fact that nearly 58 percent of drivers say talking on a cellphone behind the wheel is a very serious threat to their personal safety, while 78 percent believe that texting is a significant danger.

AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign urges drivers to visit www.ItCanWait.com, where they can pledge to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phone, and share their pledge with others via Twitter (#ItCanWait) and Facebook. Launched 10 years ago as a campaign focused on not texting and driving, it has now expanded its focus to the broader dangers of smartphone use while driving. The campaign has also launched a new virtual reality (VR) experience to that users firsthand the dangers of distracted driving in a full 3-D immersive setting, which is available for use at the “It Can Wait” website and can be previewed at http://www.ItCanWait.com/vr.

To help those drivers who can’t resist their phones, AT&T offers a free app, DriveMode, for smartphones that deactivates texting and other alerts when the car is moving and sends a friendly away message to people texting.

"April isn't just Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it also is the start of construction season," Kennedy said. "As technology is continually woven more directly into our daily lives, it is paramount that drivers remember that no email, no text message, and no tweet is worth the life of another driver or pedestrian.”

“Driving is a significant part of our everyday lives and people are passionate about smartphone communications,” said Kevin Hanna, director of external affairs, AT&T. “But using your smartphone for activities like messaging or social posts while driving is very dangerous. AT&T is proud to be working with Sen. Kennedy, AAA and New York State Police to raise awareness of the dangers and help people change their distracted driving behaviors in Western New York.”

“The Easter travel season is upon us and we are quickly approaching the ‘100 Deadliest Days,’ the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations and corporate communications for AAA WCNY. “Since teens drive more during the summer than any other season, this is a timely reminder to everyone not to drive ‘Intexticated.’ With more than 3,400 people killed in distracted driving crashes each year, it is time for drivers to be accountable. We can save lives.”

“Mobile and smartphones 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 Trooper James O’Callaghan, public information officer, New York State Police – Troop A Headquarters. “Help make our roads safe by keeping your eyes on the road and not on your phone.”

For additional information on AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, visit www.ItCanWait.com.

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