In an effort to raise awareness regarding distracted driving Allstate, the insurance giant, is touring the country with a driving simulator designed to highlight the dangers of texting while behind the wheel.
According to a recent news release issued by the company (see below) the program, known as “Reality Rides,” was launched last summer and is expanding this year. It involves “a driving simulator that utilizes a real – but stationary – vehicle equipped with virtual reality technology, including a new curved LED television embedded in the car windshield. The television displays an animated environment and reacts to the driver’s motions.” Participants are invited to ‘drive’ the car while texting and/or talking on the phone as a way to experience just how significant the danger of distracted driving can be. Allstate plans to take the simulator to 40 cities over the course of the summer following what the company describes as a successful rollout of the program last year. This represents a significant expansion from the 26 “Reality Rides” events the company organized in 2013.
“Last year, the first tour surveyed more than 1,700 people… Seventy-three percent (of whom) said they learned more about distracted driving after experiencing the simulation,” the company says. The same survey – conducted at the simulator sites last year – found that “more than one-third of drivers say they text and drive at least some of the time.” The company is also using the simulator to promote Graduated Drivers License laws, under which teen drivers face more restrictions on their driving than adults. “Stronger teen driving laws… have been shown to reduce traffic fatalities by as much as 40 percent in the states where they have been adopted,” the company says.
While teens are not the only drivers prone to text or talk on a hand-held cellphone while driving almost every study focused on distracted driving indicates that, as a group, they engage in this behavior more often than more experienced drivers. Indeed, the risk of Oregon injuries to children associated with distracted driving are especially troubling when one also considers that teen drivers in general have a noticeably higher accident rate than adults. This is an issue not only for young drivers and their passengers but for those they may injure through their negligence.
As a Portland distracted driving lawyer I’m pleased to see Allstate backing an initiative like this. The company, of course, is ultimately doing this mainly to benefit its own bottom line, but they do deserve a nod for an effort that may, in the long run, benefit society as a whole. Oregon has had a strong distracted driving law on the books for several years but like DUI this appears to be a problem which will never entirely go away and, therefore, must be countered by both consistent enforcement and constant education.