April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Allstate is calling on drivers to avoid distractions behind the wheel.
To drive home the message, Allstate is launching the fifth annual Reality Rides tour, featuring a simulator that provides a safe environment to learn about the impact of distracted driving. This year’s tour will stop in 50 cities throughout the United States and Canada, more than double the number of last year’s events.
The Berry family of Texas knows the devastating impact of distracted driving firsthand.
As Josh and Robin Berry and their three young children headed home from vacation in 2011, a distracted driver hit their minivan head-on. The crash killed Josh and Robin and paralyzed their two sons. The children, Peter, Aaron and Willa Berry, have been in the care of their aunt and uncle, and they along with their cousins, Noah and Misha, have started the organization One Life is Enough (OLIE), to help fight distracted driving.
The family joined Allstate for the Reality Rides event in Austin, Texas, where state lawmakers are considering Senate Bill 31, which proposes banning texting while driving for all drivers.
“No one should have to face the preventable yet life-threatening consequences of a distracted-driving collision,” said Matt Berry, the children’s uncle and guardian. “OLIE is touched by Allstate’s contributions to end distracted driving. We hope stronger laws in Texas and nationwide will help move this important issue into action.”
Julie Parsons, Allstate’s senior vice president of vehicle product management, asserted that distracted driving “is reaching epidemic proportions.”
“We want everyone to think twice about texting, eating or engaging in other distractions any time they get behind the wheel,” Parsons said.
The Reality Rides simulator is a stationary vehicle with virtual reality LED screens across the windshield, displaying animated scenarios drivers often encounter. Using the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, operators try to navigate those situations while also attempting to text message, answer phone calls or use in-car technology such as GPS – all activities that frequently distract drivers in real life.
Afterward, participants receive “traffic citations” that highlight real infractions they’ve committed during their simulations.
This year, Reality Rides also offers new features and enhanced technology, including touch-screen monitors that display distracted-driving facts and allow participants to take selfies to share on social media as GIFs. Also for the first time, Reality Rides will feature a virtual pledge wall displaying participants’ photos, as a demonstration of their support for Allstate’s “X the TXT” movement in which drivers pledge to not text behind the wheel.
Surveys of more than 7,600 Reality Rides participants found that after experiencing the simulator, nearly 60 percent of participants said they’d never text while driving. After trying the simulator, more than half of Reality Rides participants said they wouldn’t let others drive distracted.
Visit Reality Rides on Facebook for more information about tour stops and distracted-driving resources and to engage in the conversation and invite friends and family to participate in prevention efforts.
Allstate offers the following tips to help prevent distracted driving:
- Put cell phones and other mobile devices out of reach prior to departing, to eliminate the desire to check them while driving.
- Input navigation directions and send messages before getting on the road.
- Use caution when choosing to listen to loud music or engage with passengers.
- Keep both hands on the steering wheel and don’t try to multi-task with other common distractions, such as eating or applying makeup.