“It Can Wait” safe driving campaign comes to SIU

By William David Higgs III, @Higgs_Third

Miss Illinois title-holder Crystal Davis remembers almost careening into a ravine during a nearly fatal distracted-driving accident six years ago. Davis suffered a cut on her forehead and the passenger who was with her suffered lacerations from her seatbelt. 

“There was a ravine on either side of the road. If it had happened any other way, we would have died,” Davis said. “Too many lives have been lost to distracted driving, and we need to buckle down and solve this.”

On Wednesday, Davis made a public appearance at a safe-driving promotion event organized by Student Health Services. Davis has made public appearances across the state to raise awareness about distracted driving.


Student Health Services was contacted by AT&T about making SIU a destination for its nationwide “It Can Wait” safe-driving campaign.

Basia Wilas, who works in health services, said SIU wanted to promote safe driving, especially because heavy pedestrian traffic on campus is particularly vulnerable to distracted driving. 

“I’ve almost been hit myself coming back from the [Recreation Center],” said Wilas, a graduate student in education administration.

AT&T provided a virtual reality simulator, which imitated the experience of an automobile accident resulting from cell phone use.

“The simulator offers a 360, 4-D experience of distracted driving,” said Chris Warwick, director of external affairs for the central Illinois office of AT&T.

It featured virtual goggles and sensation pads to create an immersive experience. 


The National Safety Council reports that cell phone usage while driving leads to approximately 1.6 million crashes per year in the U.S. Distracted driving accounts for 10 percent of all fatal motor accidents, according to a 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Fourteen percent of fatal distracted driving accidents involve cellphone use, according to the study. 

“This issue is important to me because of the lives lost and damaged because of accidents related to distracted driving,” Warwick said. “It’s 100 percent preventable.”

William David Higgs III can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.