The Edmond Sun

Business

August 24, 2012

AT&T calls on nation’s drivers to pledge: Never text and drive

OKLA. CITY — Wireless provider AT&T, seeking to bring attention to a serious road-safety problem, this week urged 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 while a driver was texting and driving, said Bryan Gonterman, president of AT&T Oklahoma, citing a statistic from the National Safety Council.

“The ‘It Can Wait’ public awareness campaign is focused on a simple, powerful message: that no text is worth dying for,” Gonterman said. ‘’From the TV airwaves to our AT&T stores and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, we will be employing a full-court press to educate Oklahoma teens and parents about the dangers of texting and driving.

“We’re challenging everyone to take the pledge to never text and drive and to make it a lifelong commitment,” he said. “And we’re challenging all device makers and app developers to offer devices that come pre-loaded with a no-text-and-drive technology solution.”

A recent AT&T survey 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 & driving — like AT&T DriveModeTM 3 — would be an effective way to get them or their friends to stop texting and driving.

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.

In addition, many other governmental, corporate, non profit and other organizations already have 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.

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