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June 19, 2018 - 1:09pm

Trooper James O’Callaghan, left, public information officer, New York State Police – Troop A Headquarters, Batavia, receiving the AT&T "It Can Wait" virtual reality simulator from Kevin Hanna, director, External Affairs, AT&T, to be used for distracted driving education community outreach program across Western New York.

Submitted photo and press release:

As part of AT&T’s ongoing dedication to support first responders across New York State and to assist the New York State Troopers in its mission in the education of drivers on the dangers of distracted driving, the Company contributed an "It Can Wait" 3D virtual reality simulator to the New York State Police Troop A in Batavia.

It will be used across Western New York for public safety education and programing. Troop A covers and protects Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans & Wyoming counties.

This new technological educational tool will allow Troop A, as part of its robust distracted driving education community outreach program across Western New York, to provide drivers with firsthand experience of the dangers of taking their eyes off the road.

The virtual reality simulator includes a virtual reality goggle and device kit, distracted driving signage and pledge boards to be used at events to help curb distracted driving and smartphone use behind the wheel.

The contribution to the Troop A is also part of AT&T’s longstanding commitment to support first responders and public safety efforts in New York and across the country. To date, AT&T has collaborated with law enforcement in more than 80 It Can Wait education programs at schools, Department of Motor Vehicles events and public education safety events over the past three years.

When you’re behind the wheel, everything can change in the blink of an eye. A post, a selfie, a text, a scroll, an email — one look is all it takes. This simulation highlights the consequences of glancing at a phone while driving in a 3D fully-immersive experience. AT&T* research shows that 9 in 10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving.** It’s no longer safe to assume that people are just texting from behind the wheel. They’re checking email, posting to social media, snapping selfies and even engaging in video chatting and online games.

The VR simulators are an excellent tool to drive home the message: “It Can (All) Wait.”

“This donation grows out of AT&T’s legacy of supporting first responders in New York and across the country and our longstanding collaboration with law enforcement to educate drivers of all ages on the dangers of using their phones behind the wheel through our It Can Wait program,” said Marissa Shorenstein, president, Northeast Region, AT&T.

“At AT&T we stress that no message is worth your life or another person’s life and to always keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone. We applaud the brave men and women of the New York State Police for all they do to keep our roads safe and for their public education programs related to distracted driving. We are proud to be able to provide these virtual reality simulators to help save drivers’ lives.”

“The New York State Police Troop A is pleased to work in partnership with AT&T to educate communities regarding distracted driving," said Trooper James O’Callaghan, public information officer, New York State Police – Troop A Headquarters. "The hands on tools that AT&T has provided will be put to great use across Western New York, allowing both youth and experienced drivers to witness and experience the seriousness of distracted driving,”

“The New York Police Troop A extends our gratitude to AT&T in ensuring our roads are safer through the virtual simulators donated. Working together, we will hopefully drop the very high distracted driving statics statewide.”

AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign is a national movement urging drivers to keep their eyes on the road rather than on their phones, and that distracted driving is never OK. The campaign began with a focus on not texting and driving and has expanded to the broader dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel.

The virtual reality simulators show the consequences of glancing at a phone while driving in a 3D fully immersive experience. People can also use their own smartphone to view the 360° experience at home. 

Since its launch in 2010, the It Can Wait campaign has:

●      Helped grow awareness of the dangers of smartphone distracted driving to nearly 90 percent of audiences surveyed;

●      Inspired more than 25 million pledges to not drive while distracted;

●      Worked with departments of transportation in various states on research that suggests a correlation between It Can Wait campaign activities and a reduction in automobile crashes;

●      Collaborated with AT&T data scientists on research that shows how statewide anti-texting laws impact the rate of texting while driving.

To learn more, visit ItCanWait.com/VR.

In addition, AT&T was recently awarded the opportunity to deploy the nation’s first mobile broadband network dedicated to America's police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services to ensure that all first responders have the tools to better serve and protect the public and to protect themselves while in harm’s way.

FirstNet was established by Congress at the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to help police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services personnel communicate in the event of a terrorist attack or other emergency involving multiple agencies.

AT&T is dedicated to giving first responders and the public safety community additional tools to support them in helping to save lives.

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