RALEIGH, N.C., April 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Legislative leaders and educators joined AT&T* today at the General Assembly to raise awareness of a dangerous practice that puts millions of Americans at risk: texting while driving.
"Long ago, North Carolina was dubbed 'the good roads state'," said Speaker of the House Thom Tillis. "Today, I want to challenge all of us to work together to make North Carolina 'the safe roads state.' And that begins with recognizing that no text message is worth someone's life."
To help drive home the message about texting while driving, AT&T brought a virtual reality simulator to the General Assembly, allowing legislators, staffers and visitors to experience firsthand the dangers of texting and driving.
North Carolina's "No Texting While Driving Act" outlawed texting behind the wheel in 2009. It prohibits texting or sending e-mails, with convictions resulting in a $100 fine and court costs. Rep Garland Pierce (D-Wagram) was the bill's primary sponsor and remains an outspoken opponent of texting on the road.
"Texting and driving is a dangerous addiction that continues to be a problem on roads and highways across the state," he said. "It is good to see the private sector and educators working together with the State to educate people about the law and the dangers of texting drivers."
On Saturday, April 20, 2013, the AT&T simulator will be at the 2013 North Carolina Teen Driving Summit in Smithfield. The event is being hosted by Johnston County Teen Drivers, a peer-to-peer driving safety program, in cooperation with the Johnston County Schools. Approximately 1,000 teens and their parents from around the state are expected to attend. Will Craig, one of the texting accident victims featured in AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign, will be a featured speaker. For more information, go to http://ncsafedrivingsummit.weebly.com/index.html.
"Through the national It Can Wait campaign, we hope to make texting and driving as unacceptable as drinking and driving," said Venessa Harrison, President of 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."
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.
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 ItCanWait.com 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 www.ItCanWait.com 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
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