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State officials and “Big Mobile” team up in fight against texting-while-driving

Recently, Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, joined Scranton High School in eastern PA, as well as representatives of AT&T, to show kids that if you're driving, texting can wait.

Similar to drunk driving simulated cars in the past, texting-while-driving simulators are being "driven" by students as a way to show them the dangers of reading and responding to a text message or email. A dash-mounted computer screen provides students with real-time scenarios such as pedestrians crossing the street, other careless drivers, stop signs, red lights, and other day-to-day traffic occurrences. When they finished the simulation, they are given a score card revealing how well, or in most cases, how poorly they did.

Said Attorney General Kane: "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. It can always wait."

AT&T Mid-Atlantic said, in part with Attorney Generals all over the country, as well as Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, that this is just one of "Big Mobile's" commitments to showing our nation's youth that texting-while-driving is a deadly combination.

AT&T's Mid-Atlantic president said that "We all know how deadly texting-while-driving can be" and that "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…Pennsylvania."

More of these types of assemblies are taking place throughout the state, including in and around the Pittsburgh region at places like Riverview Junior/Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. The PA State Senator will join AT&T representatives at Riverview to conduct a similar program to that of the one in Scranton.

In addition to state officials and cell phone companies helping the cause, PennDoT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have decided to place "IT CAN WAIT" electronic anti-texting messages along its toll roads. Other outlets and professional organizations like Facebook and Twitter, and the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, will all be doing their part to support the cause now and in the near future.

Safety officials have said that in addition to ad campaigns and school assemblies, sometimes it's just as simple as telling the driver you're with to put down his or her phone. A recent ConnectSafely.org survey reported that adolescents will listen to those of whom they are closest when it comes to texting-while-driving. The survey said that:

          44% of teens would be thankful, in retrospect, if one of their passengers complained about them texting-while-driving.

          78% of teens admit they are likely not to text-while-driving if close friends tell them it's a dumb idea.

          90% of teen drivers say they would definitely stop texting-while-driving if a friend (passenger) in the car told to stop because they felt uncomfortable.

          93% of teenagers said that they would stop if parents sincerely asked.

Stats like these show that we are not without hope when it comes to ending dangerous instances of texting-while-driving. If we all do our part to be consciously aware and let others know that it's a terrible decision, texting-while-driving-related accidents can decrease over time.

Source: EFY Times, "Attorney General Kane, AT&T Team Up To Remind PA Drivers: Texting … It Can Wait®" 26 October 2013  

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