NORMAN — AT&T recently sponsored a virtual reality driving simulator at the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma’s annual Summer Safety Conference in Norman.
The simulator gave county commissioners from around the state a first-hand experience of the dangers of texting while driving.
The AT&T driving simulator is a computerized car that lets users virtually text and drive — providing a realistic but safe experience for drivers. Using the simulator, drivers learn that no message is so urgent that it is worth diverting attention from the road and risking human lives in the process.
“Smartphones allow us to have access to communications, calendars and even our email almost everywhere. I know it’s tempting to reply to a text or reply to an email while in a vehicle, but it just isn’t worth the risk. An email or text doesn’t seem so important when you see the potential cost being loss of life or serious injury,” Cleveland County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan said.
AT&T has sponsored the simulator in many locations around the state and country over the past several years, typically focusing on high schools and other events primarily focusing on young drivers.
As a company, AT&T has been at the forefront of efforts to educate drivers to the dangers of texting while driving and has made a proactive push to educate all wireless users — particularly teen drivers — through its national “Texting & Driving ... It Can Wait” campaign.
“More than 100,000 times each year, an automobile crashes and people are injured or die because the driver was texting while driving,” said Bryan Gonterman, president of AT&T Oklahoma, citing a statistic from the National Safety Council.
“Our goal is to save lives,” Gonterman said. “I hear from far too many people whose lives have been forever changed by a texting-while-driving accident, and together, we want to spread the word about how deadly a single text can be.
“We’d like to see texting and driving become as unacceptable as drinking and driving.”