Demonstration drives home distracted driving

AT&T stores, Valley Cats partner for texting and driving simulator

The Tri-City Valley Cat tries the AT&T texting-while-driving simulator.

The Tri-City Valley Cat tries the AT&T texting-while-driving simulator. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— In an effort to demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving, local AT&T locations teamed up with the Tri-City Valley Cats to spread the company’s “It Can Wait” campaign.

On Friday, July 19, a texting-while-driving simulator was set up at the AT&T location in Glenmont. The event was attended by company representatives, town officials and the Tri-City Valley Cats mascot. The company went on a local four-day tour with the simulator. They were also asking people to sign the “It Can Wait” pledge.


Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Kilcoyne tries the AT&T texting-while-driving simulator Friday, July 19, in Glenmont.

“This is an important time of year because we are smack dab in the 100 deadliest days of summer, which is a time roughly between Memorial Day and Labor Day when distracted driving and drunk driving are at their heights,” said AT&T Director of External Affairs Ed Bergstraesser.

Bergstraesser said a recent AT&T survey found 97 percent of teens asked knew texting and driving was dangerous, but 75 percent said it was a common practice. The company has since received 1.2 million pledges in its campaign and is now working on giving presentations to high schools across the country.

According to the state officials, one in five accidents in New York is a result of distracted driving. From 2005 to 2011, the number of deaths and injuries from distracted driving increased by 143 percent.

Earlier in the month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo detailed a $1 million summer initiative to increase enforcement of distracted driving laws by boosting undercover operations statewide. State Police will use unmarked vehicles that are specially designed to enhance the ability of troopers to catch people using their phones while driving.

Throughout the afternoon, AT&T customers were asked to test the simulator in order to gain a better understanding of how difficult it is to text and drive, and to witness the repercussions. Participants were sent text messages while using a computer program to drive, complete with a fake steering wheel and pedals.

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