For National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Allstate is calling on drivers to avoid distractions behind the wheel. To drive home its message, Allstate launchinged its fifth annual Reality Rides tour, featuring a simulator that provides a safe environment to learn about the often devastating, but preventable, impact of distracted driving. This year’s tour will stop in 50 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada, more than double last year’s events.
The Berry family of Texas knows the impact of distracted driving first hand. 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 since 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 will join Allstate for its Reality Rides event today 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.”
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 like 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 touchscreen 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.
Reality Rides Impact
Surveys of over 7,600 Reality Rides participants at more than 110 past events found the simulator has an impact that may change behavior:
- Before trying it, almost half of participants surveyed said they text while driving and about two-thirds said they talk on the phone while driving.
- After experiencing the simulator, nearly 60 percent of participants surveyed say they’ll never text while driving.
- More than half of Reality Rides participants surveyed say, after trying the simulator, they won’t let others drive distracted.
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, like eating or applying makeup.