Apart from driving while intoxicated, texting while driving is one of the most dangerous things a person can do behind the wheel. According to statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting makes a driver 23 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.
Now, the cellphone companies are taking a move from the liquor sellers’ playbook: just like beer and liquor companies encourage consumers to “drink responsibly,” AT&T is launching a public campaign aimed at encouraging drivers to put their cell phones down when they get into the car. The company wants drivers to sign an online pledge promising not to text and drive.
AT&T began its texting safety campaign in 2009 with television commercials and a simulator designed to show users how easy it is to lose focus and run into trouble while texting.
The effort is about to get a major boost from the Illinois government. Governor Pat Quinn recently declared September 2012 as “Texting and Driving Awareness Month.” As part of that, his office is backing AT&T’s efforts to have drivers sign the anti-texting pledge.
Illinois Texting While Driving Accidents
The efforts are certainly needed. Texting while driving is a huge problem, especially with younger drivers. In fact, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has gone so far as to call the problem a “national epidemic.”
Like most states, Illinois has a law that bans texting while driving. Unfortunately, a prohibition alone is rarely enough to get drivers to change their behavior. There needs to be a combination of education and consequences to effect real change.
Hopefully, next month’s focus on the dangers of texting while driving will be a step in the right direction.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “AT&T asks Americans to stop texting and driving,” August 16, 2012.
AT&T Pairs With Governor Quinn to Oppose Distracted Driving