Distracted driving demo opens eyes


Tourists in San Francisco last week received an eye-opening experience when it comes to distractions while driving.

In front of their AT&T flagship store at One Powell St., the cell provider on Friday brought out its prop vehicle and a virtual headset equipped with a smart phone, playing a simulated video of what can happen when a driver picks up their phone to read texts from loved ones, friends, or co-workers.

It’s all part of AT&T’s national campaign “It Can Wait,” where the company wants drivers to take a pledge to not pick up phones while driving, to tell others do the same, and to be aware that there are other drivers on the road.

Christopher Johnston, a spokesperson for the campaign, said one of the goals of the campaign is make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving:

“We take the simulator all over the country and we remind everybody that no posts, no texts, no email, no selfie, is worth your life or somebody else’s life.”

Johnson added:

“Any message you get, it can wait.”

AT&T launched the campaign in 2010, and since then, a number of celebrities have joined the campaign including pop singer Demi Lovati and country singer Tim McGraw.

A number of law enforcement agencies have teamed up on the campaign, including the California Highway Patrol.

According to the CHP, there were 85 killed in a collision in 2015 where distracting driving was a factor in collision. The number of those injured in 2015 because of distracted driving was 11,262.

A new law went to effect in the state this year where drivers cannot have a cell phone in their hands while operating a vehicle. Drivers can activate or deactivate functions of a cell phone with swiping and tapping, but the cell phone must be mounted in the vehicle.

CHP officer Custodio Lopez said a collision can happen within a blink of an eye when it comes distracted driving:

“You can either cause tragedy or be the tragedy.”

More information about the It Can Wait campaign can be found at

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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