Feature Article

September 23, 2013

Wireless Providers Join Youth Groups to Stop Texting and Driving

The “Big Four” in wireless service providers (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) have joined forces with transportation safety leaders and youths from around the country to hold a rally for the It Can Wait Drive 4 Pledges Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The rally is to help inspire today’s youths to stop texting while driving, which has become a serious concern. Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and teen star Coco Jones were featured speakers at the event.

The rally was held with the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NYOS) Distracted Driving Summit that was sponsored by AT&T and State Farm. The Drive 4 Pledges campaign has been a nationwide effort that has taken its message to more than 1,500 high schools around the country and asks people to go to the website, www.ItCanWait.com, for additional information about this growing problem.

The rally allowed attendees a chance to see what happens when you text and drive by using a driving simulator. People were allowed to sign the It Can Wait pledge wall and learn more about Reggie Shaw, a man who killed two people in Utah while texting and driving and is the focus of a documentary entitled From One Second to the Next.

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Commissioner Rosenworcel said during her speech that the statistics for damages caused by texting and driving are “staggering,” and that the stories are “heartbreaking.” Each year, she says, “too many Americans die in distracted driving crashes.” She went on to say that it is possible to save these lives: “These deaths are preventable and the more we educate people on this issue the more lives we will save. I applaud the wireless carriers for taking on this initiative and I also commend the students here today, from across the nation, who are doing their part to make our roads safer."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,331 people were killed in accidents with distracted drivers in 2011, and the 2012 figure is higher than 2011 by more than one thousand people. Also in 2011, 387,000 people were injured in traffic accidents with distracted drivers. ConnectSafely.org conducted a survey of youths willing to speak out to fellow youths and found 78 percent of teen drivers say they would not text and drive if friends tell them it is wrong, 90 percent say they would stop texting if asked by a passenger, 93 percent would stop texting if asked by a parent in the car, and 44 percent would appreciate if a passenger complained about their texting and driving.

Christopher Hart, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, said, “In our accident investigations, all too often we find that distraction is a cause or contributing factor. And the biggest culprit, by far, is texting. One study has shown that texting increases crash risk by 23 times. We must work together to change the cultural norms so that the dangerous combination of texting and driving is unacceptable." 

While this is certainly an issue amongst our nation’s youth, it is a pervasive issue. News cameras in Las Vegas caught many people texting while driving, the majority of them middle-aged businesspeople.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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