AAA Mid-Atlantic, AT&T, BGE & Maryland State Police Mark Distracted Driving Awareness Month

With Marylanders hitting the road for Spring break – and to recognize Distracted Driving Awareness Month – AAA Mid-Atlantic, AT&T, BGE and Maryland State Police on April 13 held a special event at the Maryland House on I-95 to remind drivers of all ages of the consequences of smartphone distractions while driving.

Motorists and their passengers who stopped at the busy plaza were able to “drive” AT&T’s It Can Wait virtual reality simulator to experience firsthand why no post, glance, email, search or text while driving is worth a life.

Lt. Colonel Frank Lioi, Chief, Field Operations Bureau, Maryland State Police, discussed their efforts to stop distracted driving.

“As we continue to focus on the reduction of fatalities and serious injuries due to motor vehicle crashes statewide, troopers are taking action by targeting distracted drivers”, said Maryland State Police Lieutenant Colonel Lioi said. “Year round enforcement efforts are focused on motorists who continue to violate the law and jeopardize the safety of our citizens.”

Ragina Cooper Averella, Public & Government Affairs Manager, AAA Mid-Atlantic, said today’s event brings awareness to distracted driving.

“AAA is proud to partner with AT&T, BGE and Maryland State Police to bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving,” said Cooper Averella. “Unfortunately, distracted driving remains a significant traffic safety concern across the country, and here in Maryland. According to a poll conducted by AAA earlier this year, encountering a distracted driver on the roadway is the biggest traffic safety concern facing Maryland motorists. In fact, 46 percent of Marylanders surveyed indicated that distracted driving was their top traffic safety concern, up from 42 percent last year and outranking aggressive, drunk, and drugged drivers collectively.”

LaTara Harris, Regional Director for External and Legislative Affairs at AT&T added that the stop on the national IT CAN WAIT tour helps drive home the message that you’re never alone on the road and that distracted driving is never ok.

“AT&T’s IT CAN WAIT campaign shares a simple message: Distracted driving is never OK. You’re never alone on the road, even when you’re alone in your car,” said Harris. “We’re collaborating with companies and organizations in the public and private sector in Maryland and across the country to deliver this important message.”

“Safety is part of our culture at BGE and is our top priority every day, both at work and at home,” said Carol Dodson, Chief Safety Officer and Vice President of Support Services for BGE. “At BGE, we are grateful to partner with agencies who share our safety-focused mission, and we are committed to educating our employees, contractors and customers on the dangers of distracted driving.”

AT&T’s Harris said today’s event is part of AT&T’s 2017 nationwide IT CAN WAIT tour, which uses a virtual reality experience to show what can happen when drivers take their eyes off the road to look at their phones. Last week, the company teamed up with Maryland’s trauma centers for 7 IT CAN WAIT events across the state to kick off Distracted Driving Awareness Month. There are around 300 IT CAN WAIT events taking place nationwide this year.

People can use their own smartphone to view the 360° experience at home using Google cardboard or Oculus VR Goggles.

IT CAN WAIT is a national movement urging drivers to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones—distracted driving is never OK. The campaign began with a focus on not texting and driving. It has now expanded to the broader dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel.

Since its launch in 2010, the campaign has:

• Helped grow awareness of the dangers of smartphone distracted driving to nearly 90% of audiences surveyed.
• Inspired more than 14 million pledges to not drive distracted.
• Worked with departments of transportation in Texas, Kentucky and other states on research that suggests a correlation between IT CAN WAIT campaign activities and a reduction in crashes.
• Collaborated with AT&T data scientists on research that shows how statewide anti-texting laws impact the rate of texting while driving.

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