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AT&T Challenges Local Teens To Join "It Can Wait" Movement To Halt Texting While Driving

teen driver (select to view enlarged photo)

AT&T Simulator Event at Cadet Achievement Awards Celebration Encourages Students and Parents to Pledge Not to Text and Drive

CHARLOTTE, NC--April 18, 2013: Local elected officials, educators and veterans joined AT&T* today at the annual Cadet Achievement Awards to urge the students to be positive role models in combating a dangerous practice that puts millions of Americans at risk: texting while driving.

"I would like to thank AT&T for its leadership role in helping to educate the driving public on the dangers of texting while driving," said Pat Cotham, chair of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. "Together with parents, teens, and support from local government, AT&T will increase safety on the roads and highways by reminding drivers to obey the law and not text while driving."

According to the National Safety Council, each year texting drivers are involved in more than 100,000 automobile accidents in which people are injured or die.

To help make the roads safer and drive home the message about texting while driving, AT&T brought a virtual reality simulator to the AT&T Cadet Achievement Awards celebration, allowing students and adults the opportunity to experience firsthand the dangers of texting and driving.

"The young men and women we honor for their Junior ROTC accomplishments are leaders among their peers and at their respective high schools," said Colonel Quincy Collins, founder of the Carolina Freedom Foundation, which sponsors the awards. "Each has already demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to citizenship and service to others. We appreciate Commissioner Cotham and her fellow county commissioners for their support of programs such as ROTC and safe-driving initiatives, programs which are making a difference in the lives of young people."

North Carolina's "No Texting While Driving Act," which went into effect in 2009, bans all drivers from text messaging or sending e-mails while driving in the state. A conviction could result in a $100 fine and court costs.

"Through the national It Can Wait campaign, we hope to make texting and driving as unacceptable as drinking and driving," said Todd Lanham, Regional Director of External Affairs for AT&T North Carolina. "We all know how wireless services keep us more connected with each other, and with information and opportunities. But if we do not use wireless safely, it can change lives in very negative ways, too."

In 2012, 165 organizations, including national nonprofits, commercial businesses, law enforcement, professional associations and government agencies, as well as many educators, legislators, and other supporters, helped get out the message and encouraged people to make a personal pledge not to text and drive. This combined effort, including those of the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Organizations for Youth Safety, SADD, Big Brothers Big Sisters, RadioShack and CTIA-The Wireless Association, made a difference.  Major highlights include:

  • Awareness of the It Can Wait message increased 26 percent during the key campaign period.1
  • One-in-three people in that period said that texting while driving messages have an impact on their driving habits.1
  • More than 1.2 million no-texting-while-driving pledges were made at and through Facebook, Twitter, live events and text-to-pledge initiatives.

In 2013, AT&T is extending its work with existing It Can Wait collaborators and significantly expanding their ranks.  Plans include:

  • Working with device makers to pre-load no-texting-while-driving technologies and solutions into handsets, with the goal of making these solutions standard on all AT&T smartphones.
  • Engaging cities such as Houston, Texas, and companies including USAA and Walmart to discuss potential new It Can Wait collaborations.
  • Making resources -- ranging from It Can Wait branded materials, to teaching aids and sample company policies -- available to other organizations for programs they develop.
  • A texting-while-driving simulator tour reaching more than 380 events nationwide.

AT&T, its 240,000 employees and other supporters are calling on all drivers to go to to take the no-texting-while-driving pledge, and then share their promise with others via Twitter (#itcanwait) and Facebook. The pledge is part of the public awareness campaign aimed directly at stopping the dangerous practice of texting while driving.

1 AT&T TWD - ICW Perceptions Study