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Virtual reality simulator displayed at County Office Building as part of ‘It Can Wait’ Campaign

 

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr., pictured with Alicia Adamczyk and Michael Stephenson of AT&T, takes the pledge to stop all smartphone distractions while behind the wheel, as part of today’s IT Can Wait distracted driving event held at the Oneida County Office building on Park Avenue. AT&T rolled in a 3D virtual simulator for the public to try out, as part of a tour this week in Upstate New York that also included a stop yesterday in Watertown. Since AT&T launched the public education program It Can Wait, more than 15million people have taken the pledge. AT&T’s It Can Wait is a national movement urging drivers to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones—distracted driving is never OK. The campaign began with a focus on not texting and driving. It has now expanded to the broader dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. took a spin in the It Can Wait 3D virtual reality simulator, with assistance from Dawn Widrick AT&T, during today’s stop at the Oneida County office building on Park Avenue. The simulator is part of AT&T’s national public education program to educate drivers about the dangers of all smartphone distractions, not just texting ad driving. AT&T research shows that 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while behind the wheel and that includes 1-in-10 motorists admitting to video chatting while driving.

UTICA, NY – AT&T teamed up with Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr , the Oneida County Traffic Safety Advisory Board, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office,  New York State Police and AAA to bring its nationally-touring 3D virtual reality simulator to the Oneida County Office Building in Utica on Tuesday.

The simulator was on display from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and gave young drivers, parents and all those that visited the County Office Building the ability to experience firsthand how dangerous it is to take their eyes off the road and glance at a phone even for just a second.

The Oneida County Office Building and Watertown were two of only 200 stops for the “It Can Wait” 3D virtual reality simulator nationwide tour in 2017. It helped to raise awareness for AAA’s 100 Deadliest Days for Drivers – the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb. With the busy summer driving season underway, more young and inexperienced drivers are on the road as well as motorcycles, farm vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians, along with increased road construction, so it’s a great reminder for teen drivers to put the phone down while driving. The Oneida County Sheriff’s office provided literature on the dangers of distracted and impaired driving and discussed the laws that pertain to the dangerous behavior.

When you’re behind the wheel, everything can change in the blink of an eye. A post, a selfie, a text, a scroll, an email—one look is all it takes. This simulation shows the consequences of glancing at a phone while driving in a 3D fully-immersive experience. 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.

A social media post, a selfie, a text, a scroll, an email—one look behind the wheel is all it takes to lose a life. AT&T Research shows that 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving, and 1-in-10 motorists have even video chatted while driving. It’s no longer safe to assume that people are just texting from behind the wheel. Similar studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that more than 80 percent of drivers view distracted driving as a bigger problem than three years ago, yet 42 percent of drivers admit to reading a text message or email while driving.

 To help drive home the message of the dangers of distracted driving, visitors were able to test drive AT&T’s nationally touring 3D virtual reality “It Can Wait” simulator set up at the County Office Building, that allows users to experience in 3D firsthand how dangerous it can be when you drive and take your eyes off the road to look at your smartphone. In addition, AAA provided tips and literature on how to avoid distracted driving, and the other law enforcement agencies in attendance provided driving safety tips for the warmer weather, clarified laws pertaining to distracted driving and discussed the devastating dangers associated with this behavior.

The nationwide 3D virtual reality simulator tour focuses on the dangers of smartphone distractions while driving, the unique virtual reality simulator experience is part of the AT&T It Can Waitcampaign, which urges drivers to keep their

eyes on the road, not on their phones. The campaign began with a focus on not texting and driving. It has now expanded to the broader dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel. People can also use their own smartphone to experience to view the 360° experience at home. To learn more, visit ItCanWait.com/VR.

“Distracted driving was responsible for multiple traffic fatalities in Oneida County last year,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “We are in the midst of assembling a task force to assess and combat this rising problem and have many county initiatives that educate young people and the general public about these dangers. Bringing in this virtual reality simulator is another valuable tool in driving that point home further and I want to thank AT&T for giving our residents this firsthand experience.”

“Driving is a major part of our everyday lives and people are passionate about smartphone communications,” said Greeley Ford, 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 County Executive Picente, Oneida County Sheriff Maciol, the New York State Police, Oneida County Traffic Safety Advisory Board Chairman and AAA to raise awareness of the dangers and help people change their behavior in Oneida County.”

“We are in midst of the ‘100 Deadliest Days,’ the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb,” said Edward Welsh, Regional General Manager, AAA Northeast. “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.”

AT&T’s It Can Wait is a national movement urging drivers to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones—distracted driving is never OK. The campaign began with a focus on not texting and driving. It has now expanded to the broader dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel.

Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has:

  • Helped grow awareness of the dangers of smartphone distracted driving to nearly 90% of audiences surveyed.
  • Inspired more than 15 million pledges to not drive distracted.
  • Worked with departments of transportation in various states on research that suggests a correlation between It Can Wait campaign activities and a reduction in crashes.
  • Collaborated with AT&T data scientists on research that shows how statewide anti-texting laws impact the rate of texting while driving.

To learn more, visit ItCanWait.com. People can also use their own smartphone to view the 360° experience at home or check out the It Can Wait sizzle reel.

* AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

** Research commissioned by AT&T and conducted by Braun Research. Polled 2,067 people in the U.S. aged 16-65 who use their smartphone and drive at least once a day. Additional information available.

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