Campaign to stop smartphone use while driving kicks off in Knoxville

Texting while driving

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Over 3,000 people were killed in crashes due to distracted drivers in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 10 percent of teens involved in fatal crashes were distracted.

“It’s a growing problem,” said Captain Todd Clark of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Motor Division. “It’s a very large problem.”

Knox County and Knoxville city leaders are teaming up with AT&T to make the week of October 24th the official “It Can Wait Pledge Week”. They want to encourage people to proactively decide not to use smartphones while driving.

Through the use of virtual reality simulators, AT&T was able to demonstrate what distracted driving was like to help drive home its point that no text, search, post, glance, or email is worth a life.

Knoxville Police Chief and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero each used the simulator, which put them in a car with a cell phone going off throughout the commute.

“It shows how dangerous it is,” said Mayor Rogero. “Eventually I crashed because I was making a left turn and didn’t see the other car coming because I was looking at my phone.”

While a lot of us think we practice safe driving, Captain Clark said the reality is that smartphone usage while driving here in East Tennessee is actually a huge problem.

“We see it every day,” said Captain Clark. “Just about every motor vehicle crash that we work involves some type of distraction.”

If you want to take the pledge, just text “ItCanW865” to “50555.” You can also visit ItCanWait.com.

Related: Viral video gives reminder of the dangers of distracted driving

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