PHILADELPHIA- A virtual reality simulation outside Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building was the centerpiece today, as Mayor Kenney and other officials and residents got a first-hand look at the dangers of distracted driving.
The event on Thomas Paine Plaza allowed members of the public to don a virtual reality headset, as a safe demonstration of the risks of texting or talking on the phone while at the wheel. The simulator was sponsored by AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, in partnership with City’s Vision Zero initiative.
“When I took office, I pledged my commitment to making Philadelphia streets safe for everyone, regardless of age, physical ability, or choice of transportation,” Mayor Kenney said. “While Vision Zero will bring system-wide changes to our transportation network, each of us can help make a difference. It is estimated that distracted driving contributes to 16% of all fatal crashes in the U.S, and a person using a cellphone while driving is four times as likely to be involved in a crash as drivers who don’t. We are asking Philadelphians to put down their phones while driving. It can wait, and you can save a life.”
A study commissioned by the AT&T for its “It Can Wait” campaign found that 95% of drivers disapprove of distracted driving, yet, 71% engage in smartphone activities while driving. The campaign urges voters to publicly pledge to always put their phone down while driving.
“AT&T launched this campaign because we want drivers of all ages to hear the message – It Can Wait,” said Joseph Divis, assistant vice president-external affairs, AT&T. “We’re excited to team up with Mayor Kenney, his Complete Streets team and all the Vision Zero allies to reinforce this message. Philadelphians can add to the 14 million pledges inspired by It Can Wait since 2010.”
On November 7, 2016, Mayor Kenney signed Executive Order 11-16, creating the Vision Zero Task Force, charged with developing an action plan to achieve the goal of zero traffic-related deaths by 2030. On March 7, 2017, Mayor Kenney kicked off the effort with the release of the Vision Zero Draft Three-Year Action Plan for public comment, a document that will guide Philadelphia’s efforts to eliminate traffic-related deaths and severe injuries.
“Every year in Philadelphia, residents are involved in more than 10,000 traffic crashes, resulting in more than 100 fatalities. We believe Philadelphians deserve better,” said Deputy Managing Director Michael Carroll and chair of the Vision Zero Task Force. “As part of Vision Zero engagement efforts, my staff, along with our committed Vision Zero partners, have been sharing the message of Vision Zero in neighborhoods across the city. This event is one piece of those efforts.”
About Vision Zero
First adopted as a national policy in Sweden in 1997, Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries, while increasing safety, health, and mobility for all. Through road design, education, and traffic safety enforcement, Vision Zero focuses attention on the shortcomings of the transportation system itself, rather than changing individual behavior.
Philadelphia’s Vision Zero Task Force is charged with developing and implementing strategies to eliminate traffic-related deaths by 2030. To learn more about Philadelphia’s Vision Zero program, visit: www.VisionZeroPHL.com.