PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Are you guilty of using your smartphone behind the wheel?
From texting to checking email and posting on social media sites, it’s not unusual to see a driver looking down.
In fact, research shows 70 percent of drivers use their smartphones while behind the wheel.
However, AT&T is trying to change that alarming statistic.
“You know, you’re sitting in traffic even and you look to your right or your left and there’s someone texting because you think you’re stopped and it’s safe to do, but it’s not,” Kelly Reed said.
In 2010, AT&T launched a campaign called, “It can wait.”
Initially, the program focused on texting and driving, but over the years, it has expanded.
“We just want to educate people that no text, email, post, or even a glance is worth your life or somebody else’s life,” CJ Johnson, of AT&T, said.
A big part of the program involves a virtual reality simulator. Today, it was set up outside the BNY Mellon building on Grant Street in Pittsburgh.
The idea is to let people experience firsthand just how dangerous taking their eyes off the road can be.
“It’s a three-minute experience. You start in a neighborhood, you’re going through school zones, you’re on a freeway and the whole time you’re getting texts, you’re getting distracted and what it does is each text you get, it’s a close call, you almost hit bikers, you almost hit people and then it ends with a pretty jarring crash, which for many people, it’s the wake-up call they need,” Johnson said.
“My heart was racing and I look at what was going on and you could see the phone lighting up and you just kept grabbing for it and grabbing for it and texting and the whole time the car keeps moving and moving and you’re just like stop texting and put your phone down,” Reed said.
The simulator moves from city to city, across the country.
AT&T representatives say if it encourages even just one driver to put down their phone and pay attention, it’s all worth it.
“I ask any driver what is worth your life? Is it a post, is it a glance? All it takes is one glance, all it takes is one second and your whole life can change forever,” Johnson said.
The simulator will be in Morgantown on Saturday.