Allstate Launches Fifth Annual Reality Rides® Tour to Help Put the Brakes on Distracted Driving

 Houston family devastated by distracted driving crash joins campaign kick-off, as Texas lawmakers consider ban on texting while driving

NORTHBROOK, Ill., April 4, 2017 – Just in time for April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Allstate is calling on drivers to avoid distractions behind the wheel, especially with safety experts finding distracted driving killed almost 3,500 people and injured nearly 400,000 in the U.S. in 2015.[i] To drive home its message, Allstate is launching 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 at the University of Texas at Austin, where state lawmakers are considering Senate Bill 31, which proposes banning texting while driving for all drivers.

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 touch-screen 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.

Distracted Drivers, Deadly Consequences

Taking steps to prevent distracted driving is increasingly important, as motorists continue to log more miles, often with deadly consequences:

  • The National Safety Council estimates more than 40,000 people died in car crashes in the U.S. in 2016, making it potentially the deadliest year on America’s roads since 2007.[ii]
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found Americans drove about 70 billion more miles during the first nine months of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015.[iii]
  • During a typical daylight moment in the U.S. in 2015, an estimated 542,000 drivers were using hand-held cell phones while behind the wheel.[iv]
  • NHTSA says distracted driving crashes killed nearly 3,500 people in 2015, an almost 9 percent jump from the previous year.[v]

Reality Rides Impact

Surveys of over 7,600 Reality Rides participants at more than 110 past events[vi] 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.

Safety Tips 

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.

Visit Reality Rides on Facebook for more information about tour stops, distracted driving resources and to engage in the conversation and invite friends and family to participate in prevention efforts.

Other tour stops planned for this year include: Albany, New York; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Birmingham, Alabama; Boise, Idaho; Camden County and Monmouth County, New Jersey; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Columbia, Missouri; Columbia, South Carolina; Dallas-Fort Worth; Denver; Hartford, Connecticut; Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Indiana; Knoxville, Tennessee; Las Vegas; Memphis, Tennessee; Milwaukee; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Oklahoma City; Orlando and Tampa, Florida; Pittsburgh; Providence, Rhode Island; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond and Roanoke, Virginia; Salisbury, Maryland; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Toronto, Canada.

Related links:  X The Text