No Text Is Worth a Life

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No Text Is Worth a Life

By: Andrea Brands, Director – Consumer Safety & Education

It's not often that a company calls on people not to use one of its services, but when we saw an opportunity to save lives and help keep roadways safe, the choice was easy.

Andrea Brands Director – Consumer Safety & Education

A significant part of my job involves travel to cities across the country to meet with safety advocates and discuss our It Can Wait movement against texting while driving. Too often I hear from parents or loved ones who were impacted by a crash caused by testing while driving, trying to make sense out of tragedy so senseless. If you're familiar with our movement, you probably know that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident (Source: Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Research: www.vtti.vt.edu). The numbers make it clear – texting while driving is dangerous.

Yet despite efforts to educate drivers, too many continue to ignore the risks. Recognizing the need for strong, bold leadership and a fresh approach, we stepped up in 2012 to expand our intensive, national movement built around the message that when it comes to reading or responding to a text or email while driving, "It Can Wait." It's not often that a company calls on people not to use one of its services, but when we saw an opportunity to save lives and help keep roadways safe, the choice was easy.

So we intensified our focus on changing behavior. To make texting while driving personal, we asked people to pledge that they would never text while driving and share their commitment with friends and family. With this came the launch of the first-ever national "No Text on Board Pledge Day" with more than 70 local events and a national event with AT&T's chairman, the FCC Commissioner and the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Just days after the September 19th pledge day, we reached our goal of 1 million pledges. By the end of 2012, more than 1.3 million pledges were logged through channels including ItCanWait.com, Facebook, Twitter and text-to-pledge.

Texting while driving events all across the country helped in spreading our message. More than 200 simulator tour events in 2012 allowed teens to virtually experience distracted driving. Hackathons awarded more than $30,000 in prizes to app developers creating technology solutions to help curb texting and driving. All these events and people turned the It Can Wait initiative turned into a movement that continues to catch on with teens, educators, parents and safety organizations.

We couldn't have done this alone. Our employees, suppliers, retail partners, government agencies and 200,000 members of AT&T's Causes.com community jumped in to spread awareness, and more than 165 supporting organizations were key in helping us reach our goal of 1 million pledges. Groups like National Organizations for Youth Safety, Big Brothers Big Sisters and SADD helped us engage youth, bringing that peer-to-peer perspective that helped us better spread our message: No text is worth a life.

In 2013, our goal is to make the It Can Wait movement even more effective. We're reaching out to health care organizations and first responders, and bringing on new corporate partners that want to use their resources to spread the message and reach to teen drivers and beyond. Our goal is to make sure texting and driving – by teens, their parents, and all drivers, unacceptable. It will take a host of programs, leaders and individuals to curb this behavior but we can make a difference – a difference that can't wait.