Gov. O'Malley Proclaims September 19 'No Text On Board Pledge Day' In Maryland
Maryland MVA, AT&T team up to highlight dangers of texting while driving
Prince George's County Executive Baker issues local proclamation
ANNAPOLIS, Md., Sept. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --Saying that traffic safety is of paramount concern, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley proclaimed September 19, 2012 as "No Text On Board Pledge Day" in Maryland.
The Governor's proclamation is part of a nationwide effort to raise awareness about the dangers of texting while driving. AT&T launched its "It Can Wait" initiative in 2009 to discourage texting while driving, especially by young people, and is working with leaders and organizations in Maryland and across the United States to eliminate the dangerous practice.
"An average of 55,000 distracted driving related crashes occur annually in Maryland, and over 250 Marylanders lose their lives annually due to distracted drivers," O'Malley said in his proclamation. "Traffic safety is of paramount concern because more people die in traffic crashes than they do in violent crimes in Maryland."
Also, as part of the initiative, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and AT&T today joined forces to spread the word to all drivers – especially Maryland's youth – about the dangers of texting while driving.
In August 2012, the Maryland Highway Safety Office launched a campaign entitled "Toward Zero Deaths-Maryland" because more than 500 people die on Maryland roads every year. AT&T's "It Can Wait" initiative is aligned with Maryland ongoing campaign to reduce highway fatalities in the state.
"We're all working toward zero deaths in Maryland," said John Kuo , MVA Administrator and Governor O'Malley's Highway Safety Representative. "Every single time you take your eyes off the road or talk on the phone while you're driving - even for just a few seconds - you put yourself and others in danger. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration is committed to ending distracted driving and with partners like AT&T we will continue to spread this message."
In addition to collaborating with AT&T and Governor O'Malley to announce the proclamation, MVA also has shared information about the "It Can Wait" initiative with its staff of over 2,000 statewide. Also, visitors to the 24 MVA branch offices will be able to learn more about how they can pledge not to text through special messages broadcast on video monitors in the MVA offices.
On October 24, 2012, a unique, in-car simulator will be on site at the MVA headquarters in Glen Burnie, giving visitors to the center an opportunity to see first hand what happens when they text and "drive."
Rushern L. Baker, III , county executive for Prince George's County, Maryland, also issued a county proclamation applauding "AT&T for its proactive efforts regarding the dangers of texting and driving," and that the "program can literally save lives throughout Prince George's County, the State of Maryland and the Nation."
"No Text On Board Pledge Day" is one part of AT&T's nationwide "It Can Wait" initiative, a multi-year, multi-faceted effort to spread the word about how deadly a seemingly simple text message can be. The telecommunications company is 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.
"Our goal is simple: to save lives," said J. Michael Schweder , president, AT&T Mid-Atlantic. "Gov. O'Malley and his entire administration, and local leaders like County Executive Baker, are helping spread the word that texting can wait. Together, we want to send a message that texting while driving can be deadly."
Nationwide, more than 100,000 times each year, an automobile crashes and people are injured or die while the driver was texting and driving, according to the National Safety Council.1 Studies show teen drivers are particularly at risk. While 97% of teens surveyed say they know texting while driving is dangerous, 75% say the practice is "common" among their friends, according to a recent AT&T survey.2 The survey also found almost all teens surveyed (89%) expect a reply to a text or email within five minutes or less, and 77% of teens report seeing their parents text while driving.
Texting is so dangerous because it takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident.
In addition to the activities taking place across Maryland, AT&T's "It Can Wait" public awareness campaign 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 tomorrow – so that anyone with access to the Internet can experience the dangers of texting while driving.
- 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.
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.
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc
1 National Safety Council www.nsc.org
2 Survey conducted by Beck Research on behalf of AT&T http://www.att.com/Common/about_us/txting_driving/att_teen_survey_executive.pdf.
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