Wireless provider AT&T is seeking to bring attention to a serious road-safety problem and is urging South Carolina residents and all Americans to pledge to stop texting while driving, and then to join with others Sept. 19, to make a lifelong commitment to never do so again.
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, and then share their promise with others via Twitter (#itcanwait) and Facebook. 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 because the driver was texting while driving, said Pamela Lackey, President of AT&T South Carolina, citing a statistic from the National Safety Council.
“Every day lives are lost and families torn apart by traffic accidents that didn’t have to happen,” Lackey said. “Each tragic incident reaffirms how deadly texting or emailing while driving can be. We want to save lives and make texting and driving as socially unacceptable as drinking while driving. So we are redoubling our efforts and inviting others to join with us in getting the word out about the risks texting poses to drivers and passengers alike.”
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:
• 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.
• Working with TV and music celebrities to deliver a strong no-texting-while-driving message via TV ads, concerts, public appearances, Twitter and Facebook.
• 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.
• Educating the public using TV ads on the dangers of texting while driving that will run during high-profile events and teen-focused programs.
• Working to provide a toolkit of no-texting-while-driving information to every high school in the country.
• 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.
• 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.
• Bringing an in-car simulator to more than 200 locations before the end of this year.
• Enlisting others — including law enforcement, educators, national retailers, consumer safety groups, legislators and the entire wireless industry — to join the no-text-and-drive movement.
• 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.”
Together with NOYS, AT&T has pioneered more than 12 teen-led, teen-focused educational summits, with plans to hold 10 or more locally by the end of the year. NOYS is a collaboration of national, youth-serving organizations, including non-profit organizations — such as Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving — and government agencies, such as the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA). AT&T shares in their common goal of promoting safe and healthy behaviors among our nation’s youth.
In addition, many other governmental, corporate, non-profit and other organizations have already pledged support for the awareness campaign, including: The AFL-CIO’s Union Plus program, American Federation of Teachers, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, CTIA, Junior Achievement, LULAC, National Safety Council, National Urban League and RadioShack. More supporters can be found at www.itcanwait.
A recent AT&T survey2 found that 97 percent of teens say they know that texting is dangerous. The survey also found:
• 75 percent of teens surveyed say that texting while driving is “common” among their friends;
• Almost all teens (89 percent) expect a reply to a text or email within five minutes or less;
• 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 and driving — like AT&T DriveModeTM3 — 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. The website www.itcanwait.com provides an opportunity to take the don’t text and drive pledge. It also offers a host of educational resources and information on the issue — including a documentary featuring families impacted by texting and driving accidents that has been viewed more than 3 million times.