As Wisconsin prepares to mark the 5th anniversary of its texting while driving ban on December 1, nearly 180 students at Tenor High School learned on Friday, Nov. 7 about the dangers of smartphone activities while driving and were encouraged to take the pledge to keep their eyes on the road and not on their phones.
Tenor High School teamed up with AT&T, AAA and the Wisconsin State Patrol as part of the It Can Wait® campaign to remind students that smartphone activity should wait until after driving.
“Our students need to know that smartphone use behind the wheel is extremely dangerous and can be deadly,” said Associate Principal Stephanie Evans-Steinbach.
“We hope our students take the It Can Wait message to heart and put their phones down while driving.”
Today’s assembly was part of a series of high school events AT&T, AAA and the Wisconsin State Patrol are holding this school year to drive home the dangers of distracted driving and encourage students to take the pledge.
The effort is part of AT&T’s It Can Wait® campaign, which has expanded this fall from a focus on texting while driving to include other smartphone activities now common behind the wheel.
“When we launched the It Can Wait campaign five years ago, our message was simple – no text is worth a life,” said Scott T. VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin. “The same applies to other smartphone activities. We are urging drivers, especially teens, to keep their eyes on the road and not on their phones.”
Today’s event featured AAA’s distracted driving simulator, which allowed students to experience the dangers of smartphone activities behind the wheel. Teens also watched a new AT&T video that shows how one young man’s dreams of playing college football ended instantly when another driver hit his vehicle after glancing at a phone.
Students were also encouraged to tag their top 5 contacts in a social media post asking them to take the pledge and pass it on, as part of AT&T’s new #Tag5toSave5 campaign. Research shows 2 in 3 people have most of their smartphone communications with just 5 people, and those “top 5” have a lot of influence over each other.
This December marks the 5 year anniversary of Wisconsin’s ban on texting while driving.
Wisconsin’s law, effective as of December 1, 2010, prohibits sending an e-mail or text message while driving and imposes a fine of up to $400. As a primary enforcement law, officers may stop and ticket drivers solely for texting and driving.
“In today’s mobile society, too many drivers are either texting or on their smartphone while driving,” said State Senator Lena Taylor. “Driving is not just a privilege; it is an obligation. We all have the obligation to drive safely and responsibly for the sake of everyone on our roads. If you’re behind the wheel, it can wait.”
New research from AT&T shows 7 in 10 people are engaging in smartphone activities while driving. Texting and emailing are still the most prevalent, but 4 in 10 drivers also tap into social media.
Over 25 percent are on Facebook, 1 in 7 are on Twitter, almost 3 in 10 surf the net, and surprisingly, 1 in 10 video chat.
“If you text while driving, your hands are not on the steering wheel, your eyes are not on the road, and your attention is not on the traffic and road conditions around you,” said State Patrol Superintendent Stephen Fitzgerald.
“Texting while driving will, without a doubt, increase your risk of causing a crash or failing to avoid one. You are putting yourself, your passengers, and everyone else on the road in grave danger.”
AT&T first launched the It Can Wait® campaign in 2010 to educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving and encourage people to take the pledge to not text and drive at www.ItCanWait.com.
The campaign has now expanded and turned into a national social movement with support from organizations all over the country, including the Wisconsin State Patrol and AAA.
Since 2010, AT&T, AAA and the State Patrol have partnered together to hold events in 79 cities throughout Wisconsin, reaching over 32,000 high school students.
The It Can Wait campaign has inspired nearly 7.5 million pledges not to text and drive across the country.
Visit www.ItCanWait.com to learn more.