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Erie County Clerk, AAAWCNY, AT&T, Sheriff’s Office, NYS Police Host Distracted Driving Awareness Day | Business

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Erie County Clerk, AAAWCNY, AT&T, Sheriff’s Office, NYS Police Host Distracted Driving Awareness Day
Erie County Clerk, AAAWCNY, AT&T, Sheriff’s Office, NYS Police Host Distracted Driving Awareness Day

County Clerk Chris Jacobs and AAA Western and Central New York teamed up with AT&T, Erie County Sheriff’s Department and New York State Police 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, the AT&T “It Can Wait” campaign and state distracted driving laws. Distracted Driving Awareness Day in Western New York was hosted May 3 at the Erie County Auto Bureau in the Town of Tonawanda, where young drivers, parents and all those that visited the auto bureau 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 that 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving, and 1-in-10 motorists have even video chatted while driving. 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 new virtual reality “It Can Wait” simulators set up at the Auto Bureau, 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, the New York State Police set up their car rollover demonstrator. AAA offered tips and literature on how to avoid distracted driving, and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office was also in attendance to provide driving safety tips for the warmer weather, clarify laws pertaining to distracted driving and discuss the devastating dangers associated with this behavior.

The virtual reality simulators immersive experience is part of AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, which 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 more than six 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.

AT&T announced during the event that a newly-released study conducted by the company shows that states such as New York, with laws aimed at curbing distracted driving, have lower rates of texting while driving.  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.

County Clerk Jacobs encourage all drivers to sign and adhere to their own Safe Driving Pledge, in addition to taking part in AT&T’s “It Can Wait” movement.  “A disturbing fact, based on a survey conducted by AT&T, is that 77% of teens have seen their parents text and drive,” said Jacobs. “We need to remind motorists to ‘just drive’ when operating a motor vehicle and continue to educate the public that texting and driving is not only against the law but it has both dangerous and costly consequences.”

“Driving is a big 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 County Clerk Jacobs, AAA, New York State Police and the Erie County Sheriff’s office to raise awareness of the dangers and help people change their behavior in Western New York.”

“We are approaching the ‘100 Deadliest Days,’ the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb,” said Elizabeth Carey, Public and Government Affairs Manager 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.”

“It only takes a moment of distraction for a tragedy to occur.  Whether its texting, reading, eating or reaching for an item in the passenger seat, that split second of distraction can lead to devastating results even for the most experienced drivers,” Sheriff Timothy Howard states. “Depending on your speed, your vehicle can travel hundreds of feet before you can stop.  Don’t allow yourself to be distracted because an attentive driver is a safe driver.”

“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 Trooper James O’Callaghan, Public Information Officer, New York State Police – Troop A Headquarters. “Help make are roads safe by keeping your eyes on the road and not on your phone.”

For the rest of May all Erie County Auto Bureaus will feature a special “It Can Wait” pledge board and 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 the Erie County Clerk’s Safe Driving Pledge, visit www.erie.gov/clerk/teendriver and for AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, visit www.ItCanWait.com.



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