Distracted driving demo opens eyes

Tourists in San Francisco last week received an eye-opening experience when it comes to distractions while driving.

In front of their AT&T flagship store at One Powell St., the cell provider on Friday brought out its prop vehicle and a virtual headset equipped with a smart phone, playing a simulated video of what can happen when a driver picks up their phone to read texts from loved ones, friends, or co-workers.

It’s all part of AT&T’s national campaign “It Can Wait,” where the company wants drivers to take a pledge to not pick up phones while driving, to tell others do the same, and to be aware that there are other drivers on the road.

Christopher Johnston, a spokesperson for the campaign, said one of the goals of the campaign is make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving:

“We take the simulator all over the country and we remind everybody that no posts, no texts, no email, no selfie, is worth your life or somebody else’s life.”

Johnson added:

“Any message you get, it can wait.”

AT&T launched the campaign in 2010, and since then, a number of celebrities have joined the campaign including pop singer Demi Lovati and country singer Tim McGraw.

A number of law enforcement agencies have teamed up on the campaign, including the California Highway Patrol.

According to the CHP, there were 85 killed in a collision in 2015 where distracting driving was a factor in collision. The number of those injured in 2015 because of distracted driving was 11,262.

A new law went to effect in the state this year where drivers cannot have a cell phone in their hands while operating a vehicle. Drivers can activate or deactivate functions of a cell phone with swiping and tapping, but the cell phone must be mounted in the vehicle.

CHP officer Custodio Lopez said a collision can happen within a blink of an eye when it comes distracted driving:

“You can either cause tragedy or be the tragedy.”

More information about the It Can Wait campaign can be found at www.itcanwait.com.