BY COLLEEN DAY
With more than 100,000 car accidents per year involving texting and driving, The University is joining forces with AT&T in its It Can Wait campaign to end distracted driving.
According to a National Safety Council study, those who read and send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a car accident.
AT&T began its It Can Wait program in 2009 to battle texting and driving and to deliver the message that no text is worth putting someone’s life at risk.
Since implementing the program, AT&T has received more than two million pledges from drivers around the country.
The University joined the campaign to help further spread the It Can Wait message Brandy Bell-Truskey, AT&T senior public relations manager, said.
“It has been shared in an electronic newsletter, and the Center for Student Engagement has tweeted and Facebooked about the campaign. In addition, the message was shared with resident assistants in an email to share with the on-campus students,” Bell-Truskey said.
It Can Wait advocates were on campus Sept. 19 for Drive 4 Pledges Day in order to spread the message and recruit new drivers to the program.
Even though 97 percent of teens say texting and driving is dangerous, 75 percent admit that it is “common among their friends,” according to an AT&T survey.
One step AT&T has taken to further its mission is the creation of the mobile app DriveMode.
The app sends automatic and customizable reply messages to incoming text messages when the car is moving 25 mph or faster. When the driver’s speed is below 25 mph for more than five minutes, the app shuts off and allows the user to view missed calls and text messages.
The app features an “allow list,” which lets the user choose up to five numbers to send and receive calls from even while the app is on. The app also allows one music app and one navigation app to be active when DriveMode is enabled. According to a study commissioned by AT&T, 89 percent of teens said a phone app would prevent them from texting.
DriveMode is free and available on AT&T Android and Blackberry devices. The company is working to make the app available on other operating systems and devices.
As a way to further show the impact of texting and driving, AT&T utilizes an online simulator that allows users to experience the danger of distracted driving. The company plans to also have a physical driving simulator available at more than 400 events across the U.S. this year. The company also hopes to provide kits of no-texting-while-driving information for every high school in America in the future.
For more information, visit www.itcanwait.com.
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