State Sen. Jim Tracy on Wednesday joined wireless provider AT&T to bring attention to a serious road-safety problem, urging students at Shelbyville Central High School to pledge to stop texting while driving.
AT&T, its employees and other supporters are calling on all drivers to go to www.itcanwait.com to take the no-texting-and-driving pledge. The pledge effort is part of the company's public awareness campaign aimed directly at stopping the dangerous practice of texting while driving.
More than 100,000 times each year, an automobile crashes and people are injured or die while a driver was texting and driving, said AT&T Regional Director Lanie Johnson, citing a statistic from the National Safety Council1.
"There is no question that texting and driving don't mix," said Tracy in a news release. "I join with other leaders across the county to encourage teens and all wireless users to join AT&T and take the No Text on Board pledge.
"Our goal is to save lives," he said. "I hear from far too many people whose lives have been forever changed by a texting-while-driving accident, and together, we want to spread the word about how deadly a single text can be. Texting and driving should be as unacceptable as drinking and driving."
Tracy was the sponsor of a 2009 bill, now a state law, prohibiting texting while driving.
"We're challenging everyone to take the pledge to never text and drive and to make it a lifelong commitment," said Johnson.
AT&T's "It Can Wait" public awareness campaign is focused on a simple, powerful message: No text is worth dying for. AT&T plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on the campaign in 2012 and has made it an ongoing commitment in future years. The effort is comprised of several key initiatives, including:
l Encouraging its 240,000 employees to take the pledge and, in turn, urge all people to commit that they will never text and drive. On an average day, AT&T retail store and call center employees speak to customers more than 500,000 times.
l Working with TV and music celebrities to deliver a strong no-texting-while-driving message via TV ads, concerts, public appearances, Twitter and Facebook.
l Launching an aggressive social media campaign with advertising on Facebook and Twitter to encourage Americans to take the pledge and to share their pledges with their friends via social media.
l Educating the public using TV ads on the dangers of texting while driving that will run during high-profile events and teen-focused programs.
l Working to provide a toolkit of no-texting-while-driving information to every high school in the country.
l Challenging device makers and app developers to work with AT&T so that all devices include a pre-loaded, no-text-and-drive technology solution as soon as possible.
l Launching an online driving simulator at www.itcanwait.com in the coming weeks, so that anyone with access to the Internet can experience the dangers of texting while driving.
l Bringing an in-car simulator to more than 200 locations before the end of this year.
Asking more than 1,000 of AT&T's strategic and other major suppliers to encourage their employees to pledge not to text and drive.
"Distracted driving is an epidemic on our roadways, and we need people all across America to take action in their communities to help put a stop to it," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "I applaud AT&T for taking on this issue with the 'It Can Wait' campaign, and I thank them for helping to spread the word that no text or email is worth the risk."
"Working with teens day-in and day-out, we see firsthand the impacts that peer pressure -- and peer influence -- have on the decisions they make," said Sandra Spavone, executive director of the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS). "That's what makes AT&T's efforts so effective. They understand that -- by working with these teens and incorporating their feedback programmatically -- ultimately, we'll reach even more of that critical and impressionable audience with a message they'll hear."
A recent AT&T survey found that 97 percent of teens say they know that texting is dangerous. The survey also found:
l 75 percent of teens surveyed say that texting while driving is "common" among their friends;
l Almost all teens (89 percent) expect a reply to a text or email within five minutes or less;
l And 77 percent of teens report seeing their parents text while driving.
But technology can help: 89 percent of teens said a phone app to prevent texting & driving -- like AT&T DriveMode -- would be an effective way to get them or their friends to stop texting and driving.
AT&T first began its "It Can Wait" campaign discouraging texting and driving in 2009.