SCRANTON, Pa., Sept. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In a gymnasium packed with high school seniors, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane today reminded all drivers – especially younger ones – that texting while driving not only is against the law in Pennsylvania, it can be deadly.
The state's top law enforcement officer joined students and educators from Scranton High School, community leaders, and officials from AT&T, to drive home the message that texting can wait.
As part of the event, students were able to "drive" a specially outfitted texting-while-driving simulator in an actual vehicle, exposing them to the dangers of texting while driving. Through a head-mounted display, students were able to experience real-life driving scenarios, including pedestrians crossing the street, red lights, and cars changing lanes on the road. At the conclusion of each simulation, drivers were able to view a scorecard showing their performance, further emphasizing the dangers of texting and driving.
"Today our message to the students is that it doesn't matter whether it's a text from their best friend, their mom, or anyone else - there is never a reason to choose texting over driving," said Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane. "It can always wait."
J. Michael Schweder, president, AT&T Mid Atlantic, said today's signature event with Attorney General Kane is part of a nationwide effort, spearheaded by AT&T and three other national wireless service providers, to urge people to share their commitment to never text and drive with others on Drive 4 Pledges Day.
"We all know how deadly texting while driving can be, which is precisely why we launched this campaign in 2009," said J. Michael Schweder, president, AT&T Mid Atlantic. "Too many lives have been lost because of this practice, and we're honored to join Attorney General Kane to spread the word here in Scranton and across Pennsylvania."
Drive 4 Pledges Day
Across Pennsylvania, other Drive 4 Pledges Day activities included:
State Senator Jim Ferlo will join AT&T officials for a student assembly at Riverview Junior/Senior High School in Allegheny County to drive for pledges.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission agreed to include "it can wait" messages on electronic signage along the toll road.
The Mayor of Wilkes-Barre and Wilkes-Barre City Council issued resolutions in support of Drive 4 Pledges Day.
Students at PSU Smeal College of Business will participate in an "It Can Wait" demonstration, featuring a "wheel and pedal" kit that simulates texting while driving.
Schweder encouraged all Pennsylvanians to join the movement, and outlined ways they can get involved in their schools and communities.
Individuals can sign up at www.ItCanWait.com to get resources that will help them share their commitment on social media and personalize the movement in their communities. Aspiring to create a social stigma around this dangerous habit of texting while driving, Drive 4 Pledges Day focuses on getting individuals involved in taking the pledge to never text and drive while encouraging others in their communities to do the same.
Supporters are encouraged to help spread the word to their families, friends and communities in a variety of ways: they can change their social profile photos and banner to It Can Wait graphics, and share their personal pledge stories using the hashtag #ItCanWait. Individuals and organizations can host pledge drives and distribute posters in their schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. All materials, such as social graphics and posters, are available for download from www.ItCanWait.com.
Today's event is among a variety of activities taking place coast-to-coast, including:
Nearly 2,000 Drive 4 Pledges activities in communities across the nation, including more than 1,500 at high schools. Additionally, 200+ proclamations will be issued.
A National Organizations for Youth Safety Teen Distracted Driving Prevention Summit in Washington D.C., including a rally today with more than 75 teens, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, NTSB Member Christopher Hart and Aly Raisman, The Century Council Ambassador.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will run co-branded advertising on national TV programming, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, and display the message in their tens of thousands of stores nationwide.
GE Healthcare will provide its US Service vehicle fleets with It Can Wait window clings to remind its employees to be safe while on the roads.
Goodyear blimps will display the message It Can Wait in the skies over Miami and Los Angeles.
The It Can Wait message will be promoted across key sporting events at games and via social media. Several Major League Baseball teams, including the Pittsburgh Pirates, will drum up support for It Can Wait by reaching out to fans during games urging them to take the pledge. NFL players will tweet their support of Drive 4 Pledges Day with their friends and fans. And, NHL and NBA teams will also be supporting the cause.
Third party organizations will support the day through various activities. The Consumer Electronics Association will hold an employee and membership pledge drive and distribute messaging through social media. The National Auto Body Council will distribute messaging through social media, e-newsletters, and press releases. Member collision shops will hold mini pledge drives in local communities. Net Impact, a nonprofit that empowers a new generation of leaders to work for a sustainable future, will promote the pledge as a "small step" in their Small Steps, Big Wins Campus Challenge program at colleges around the world.
Youth organizations like the Girl Scouts will participate. Girl Scouts of the USA will activate its 112 councils nationwide to support It Can Wait through social media and member engagement.
"Texting while drivingclaims too many lives, and raising awareness of this completely preventable tragedy is key to saving them," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. "We've seen success before through our seatbelts and our drunk driving campaigns, and I both applaud the It Can Wait campaign for its efforts to raise awareness and encourage everyone to make a commitment on Drive 4 Pledges Day to drive focused and distraction-free."
In fact, a ConnectSafely.org1 survey found that individuals who speak up can have a profound impact, particularly on teens.
78% of teen drivers say they're likely not to text and drive if friends tell them it's wrong or stupid.
90% say they'd stop if a friend in the car asked them to.
93% would stop if a parent in the car asked them to.
44% say that they would be thankful if a passenger complained about their texting while driving.
The It Can Wait movement is making a difference. One-in-three people who've seen the texting while driving message say they've changed their driving habits2, the campaign has inspired more than 2.5 million pledges never to text and drive and the recently launched "From One Second To The Next" documentary has received more than 2 million views since Aug. 8. To take the pledge and get more information, visit www.ItCanWait.com.
1 ConnectSafely.org survey sponsored by AT&T
2 AT&T Texting While Driving … It Can Wait Perceptions Study