DistractDrivingSummer is coming and it starts with Memorial weekend.

AT&T, which has already reached millions of people through its  “It Can Wait” campaign, announced recently that Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile and 200+ organizations are joining the movement to end texting while driving, a habit involved in more than 100,000 car accidents a year (National Safety Council) and makes drivers 23 times more likely to be involved in a wreck (source: Va. Tech). The “It Can Wait” campaign culminates in a national day of action on September 19th, encouraging everyone to get out in their community and advocate involvement on behalf of the movement.

The summer-long initiative kicks off on May 20th and will be supported by a new national advertising campaign featuring people who are living with the consequences of texting while driving, a large-scale nationwide texting-while-driving simulator tour, major retail presence in tens of thousands of stores, and more. The campaign, aimed at educating drivers to change behaviors that will ultimately help save lives, will run between Memorial Day and Labor Day, deemed by AAA as the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers.  Furthermore, according to this recent study, texting-while-driving is now the leading cause of death for teen drivers, surpassing the number of teen deaths related to driving under the influence.

But texting while driving extends beyond just teens. A recent AT&T survey on the behavior of commuters found that nearly all commuters polled agreed that sending a text or email while driving isn’t safe, yet nearly half of them admitted to texting while driving with 43 percent of those who said they text and drive characterizing the act as a “habit.” The survey found that commuters are also texting and driving even more than teens – 49 percent, compared to 43 percent.

Through the “It Can Wait” movement, more than 1.5 million pledges to never text and drive have been made and thousands of people have had hands-on experience with driving simulators that make clear the dangers of texting while driving. Head to att.com/itcanwait to use an online simulator, hear stories from victims of texting while driving, view a riveting documentary “The Last Text,” and find information on AT&T’s DriveMode app for Android and BlackBerry phones that can automatically disable texting when the phone is traveling more than 25 miles an hour in a vehicle.

Texting while driving is an epidemic, and it’s not isolated to teen drivers. It affects adults as well. A recent AT&T survey shows business commuters know texting while driving is unsafe, but they still engage in these behaviors. In fact:

  • They are texting and driving more than they used to.

o   Six in 10 commuters said they never texted while driving three years ago.

  • Nearly half of commuters admit to texting while driving, which is more than teens.

o   49 percent of commuters self-report texting while driving, compared to 43 percent of teens.

  • Despite knowing the risks.

o   98 percent said sending a text or email while driving isn’t safe.

  • For many, it has become a habit.

o   More than 40 percent of those who admitted to texting while driving called it a habit.

Source: AT&T

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.