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'Vision Zero' Supporters Use Simulator to Show Effects of Distracted Driving

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TWC News: 'Vision Zero' Supporters Use Simulator to Show Effects of Distracted Driving
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Supporters of the mayor's plan to keep pedestrians safe gave some passersby a behind-the-wheel look at the devastating results of distracted driving on Tuesday. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

In a rare U-turn, members of the Vision Zero campaign were actually encouraging people to text while behind the wheel, but only a wheel that's part of a simulator being used by AT&T to put the brakes on texting while driving.

"It shows you that if you think that you're really not distracted, in fact, you really are," said Marissa Shorenstein, president of AT&T for NY. "It is very hard to get through that simulation without crashing into something."

"I mean, wow," said one person who tried the simulator. "It took me, like, a second and I crashed."

He's not the only one. I tried my hand at the simulator and ended up in a collision. So did Ben Watson, who at one point drove up onto the sidewalk while answering a text about pizza.

Unfortunately, texting and driving is also pretty common and part of a dangerous pattern of distraction.

"They're checking their Facebook messages. They're posting their tweets," said Kim Wiley-Schwartz of the Department of Transportation. "People are posting selfies while they're driving. So it's these kinds of things that we're really asking people to get serious about."

Getting drivers to put down their cellphones is no small task. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 660,000 drivers are using a phone or other electronic device while driving at any given moment of the day.

That is why AT&T is asking participants, and all drivers, to sign their It Can Wait pledge, vowing never again to text and drive.

Not everyone got the message, though.

"I feel like I've been driving and texting for so long, I'm not too bad at it, and I think it might slow me down a certain percent but nothing that's going to cause me any danger or anybody around me any danger," said one person who tried the simulator.

Officials, however, hope that most people who stopped by will change their course.

"It shows how dangerous it really is, and it makes you think again about doing it again," said one official.

For more information about texting and driving, or to take the pledge, visit itcanwait.com.

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