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Can virtual reality help combat distracted driving?

The sad and simple truth is that despite the enactment of state laws expressly banning texting while driving, the constant news headlines detailing the deadly toll that it is taking on our roads and highways, and the widespread knowledge of the dangers it poses, people continue to engage in this reckless practice.

Indeed, research by AT&T has found that as many as seven in ten drivers still use their smartphone in some capacity from texting and talking to emailing and surfing the Internet.

Interestingly enough, the telecommunication giant has been at the forefront of the fight against distracted driving, launching its critically acclaimed It Can Wait campaign roughly five years ago and gathering over seven million pledges not to text and drive in the process.

In fact, AT&T has now launched a new weapon in the battle against distracted driving that it hopes will help change more minds, particularly among those who know that the practice is dangerous but mistakenly believe that they have found a safe way to do it.

What exactly is this new weapon?

AT&T's new weapon is virtual reality, which has evolved considerably over the course of the last two decades. Specifically, its new 360-degree VR simulation involves a driver navigating both busy highways and side streets, avoiding everyday obstacles before ultimately experiencing a devastatingly realistic distracted driving accident.

How many people will get to experience this?

According to AT&T officials, the VR simulation will be taken on a 100-city tour, which will likely include stops here in Florida. Similarly, the company will also be giving away Google Cardboard VR viewers, which can be used in conjunction with a free app designed to replicate the same VR experience.

Is AT&T the only carrier trying to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving?

No. While carriers like Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are usually locked in winner-take-all battles with one another for customers, they have all  expressed support for the It Can Wait campaign.

It's highly encouraging to see corporate America come together to raise awareness about what has now become one of the single greatest safety threats on our roads and highways. Here's hoping these efforts continue and that more people decide to put their smartphones away while driving.

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