A year after launching its campaign against texting behind the wheel, AT&T* is enlisting more groups to join the cause. The company today announced a four-year series of contributions totaling $1 million to help educate the public and spread the word about its “Txtng & Drivng…It Can Wait” initiative. This announcement kicks off during National Youth Traffic Safety Month – a time when many teens are hitting the roads for prom, graduation parties, summer jobs and road trips with friends.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the No. 1 cause of death for teens in America are traffic crashes. In fact, eight of the 10 deadliest days for young people on the roads annually fall between May and August.1 And so far, this year alone in the U.S., there have been more than 425,000 crashes involving drivers using cell phones and texting.2
AT&T continues to raise awareness about the issue of texting and driving through a multifaceted initiative to educate the general public about using wireless devices safely while driving. The company’s 10-minute documentary, “The Last Text,” launched in December 2010, and since then, has received nearly 2.3 million views. Across AT&T’s Facebook page, AT&T’s Friends & Family page and AT&T’s employee social media page, nearly 61,000 individuals – teens, parents, employees, and more – have taken the pledge to not text and drive since the campaign launch in March 2010.
The National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) – a collaborative network of national associations and federal agencies that focus on youth safety and health – will receive the first contribution, totaling $95,000. This funding will allow for development and training for 40 student ambassadors on anti-texting-while-driving education.
In October 2011, these teen ambassadors plan to join officials in Washington, D.C., for the first-ever national texting while driving prevention youth summit. The students will host similar summits within their schools and hometowns throughout the school year, reminding their peers that text messaging can – and should – wait until after driving.
“Our campaign has touched millions in its first year, and this is just the beginning of our movement to reshape wireless customers’ behavior by educating them on the grave risks of texting while driving,” said Gail Torreano, senior vice president of AT&T Employee Communications and Global Sponsorships.
Laura Sanford, assistant vice president, Corporate Contributions at AT&T, said: “While this message is a critical one for adults and youth alike, we’re continuing to focus much of our efforts on teen outreach. Not only are they typically new drivers, but according to a recent Pew Internet Research study, the average teen sends and receives five times more text messages a day than a typical adult.3 This contribution represents our ongoing commitment to promote responsible ways of using our technology, because ultimately, no text is worth losing a life.”
NOYS has played a major role in AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign efforts to date, and in December 2010, distributed the “The Last Text” documentary to tens of thousands of schools across the country. Providing schools with discussion guides and toolkits, NOYS helped spur thought-provoking dialogue to engage students in the film, which featured real stories of victims whose lives were altered – or even ended – because of texting and driving.
“We are proud to have been a strong advocate for AT&T’s anti-texting-and-driving efforts for more than a year now, and we’re grateful for their support to further our efforts during National Youth Traffic Safety Month and throughout the year,” said Sandy Spavone, executive director of NOYS. “Developing this new cohort of student ambassadors will allow us to empower youth and equip them with the tools they need to encourage peer-to-peer traffic safety, education and learning.”
AT&T will contribute a total of $250,000 during the first year of the four-year program, and will announce future contribution recipients for its initial year of funding throughout 2011.
Since 2009, the company has revised its wireless and motor vehicle policies to more clearly and explicitly prohibit texting and driving, impacting its more than 260,000 employees; incorporated a don’t-text-and-drive message on the plastic clings that protect handset screens on the majority of new devices sold in AT&T’s more than 2,200 company-owned stores; integrated campaign messaging in AT&T catalogs, in-store signage and collateral, bills, e-mails and newsletters and at AT&T-sponsored events; designed a pledge for its Facebook and employee pages; and more. AT&T’s 10-minute documentary has been screened in thousands of schools in the U.S., as well as in drivers’ education classes, state police agencies, public health organizations and numerous government agencies and safety organizations; and the film appears on AT&T U-verse® platforms, AT&T social media and employee and product pages.
For more information on AT&T’s “Txtng & Drivng…It Can Wait” campaign, please visit: www.att.com/txtingcanwait.