Oceanside CA— When you see the driver next to you looking at their phone, it’s no longer safe to assume they’re texting. New research from AT&T shows nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Almost 3-in-10 surf the net. And surprisingly, 1-in-10 video chat. On Tuesday, students at Oceanside High School got to experience the dangers of distracted driving through an AT&T campaign titled ‘It Can Wait‘.
The students got to experience, through Virtual Reality, several close calls and an accident in a very realistic simulation using VR glasses and headphones. “I was scared,” said Mikyla a fourteen-year-old 10th grader at the school. “We almost hit a dad pushing his kid in a stroller. It was so real.”
The simulation is indeed, very real in your mind when using the Oculus glasses and Bose headphones. You look down and you see your virtual legs. Look behind as you are backing up, you can see the back seat. Look left and right out the windows and you see your surroundings as if you were actually in the car, driving down the road on the Dallas streets where it was filmed.
The program has several simulators that are transported around the country to various schools, businesses, and organizations. “I had one woman in Iowa when she was done with the simulation and took off the glasses, she had a tear in her eye. She said thank you for letting her experience the simulation because she texted, while she was driving, all the time, sometimes with her kids in the car. She was glad to learn the lesson the easy way and not by hurting someone else.” said CJ Johnson who travels across the with the campaign. “I will be at an event and a news station will be there doing a story. The reporter will get into the van after covering a story on distracted driving, then drive away looking at her phone for the next story or something. It can be hard not to do sometimes. We get so connected to our devices.”
“A lot of these kids are a few years away from driving but we want them to know they have a voice.” said John Osborne, Director of External Affairs at AT&T, “If they are riding with someone who is driving distracted, speak up. You have a right to be safe.”
Officers from the Oceanside Police Department were also on hand answering any questions the students might have after doing the simulation.
When the students are done with the simulation, they are asked to go to the It Can Wait website[Link] and take the ‘Distracted Driving is Never Okay’ pledge. The pledge is open to everyone, not just people who go through the simulation. Currently, the number is over 12,700,000. Their goal is to have 16 million people take the pledge before the end of the year.
“When we launched It Can Wait five years ago, we pleaded with people to realize that no text is worth a life,” said Lori Lee, AT&T’s global marketing officer. “The same applies to other smartphone activities that people are doing while driving. For the sake of you and those around you, please keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone.”