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AG Kilmartin and RIDOT Partner with AT&T to Raise Awareness About Dangers of Texting While Driving

"Txtng & Drivng… It Can Wait" Awareness Campaign will Include Visits to R.I. Schools

Declare September 19th as "Don't Text and Drive Day" in Rhode Island

Providence, RI (Wednesday, August 15, 2012) - The statistics are startling: While nearly all teenagers know that texting while driving is dangerous, 43 percent of them admit to sending texts while they drive, and they say that adults set a bad example by texting and driving themselves.

To bring greater awareness to the dangers of texting while driving, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) are teaming up to bring AT&T's powerful "Txtng & Drivng…It Can Wait" awareness campaign to schools throughout Rhode Island this year.

The "It Can Wait" campaign will launch on September 19 with a visit to Cranston High School East by Kilmartin, RIDOT Director Michael Lewis, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, AT&T New England President Patricia Jacobs, and school officials.

"Whether turning the phone off, taking a pledge, or just making it a personal practice, the next time you think about sending or answering a text while operating a vehicle please remember – it can wait. The reality is that no message is so urgent that it is worth diverting attention from the road and risking lives in the process," said Attorney General Kilmartin, who sponsored the state's landmark legislation in 2009 banning texting while driving in Rhode Island. "By sharing the sobering consequences of texting while driving to young drivers, we hope to change young drivers' attitudes about the subject and encourage the public to put away cell phones while behind the wheel."

"Texting and driving is a serious issue that can negatively impact people of all walks of life, particularly our students. As Mayor of the city, I strongly support education initiatives that teach them about the dangers of texting and driving and the tragic consequences that can result when you are inattentive behind the wheel," said Mayor Fung.

"Texting while driving is a choice, and a bad one at that. We encourage all drivers to make the right choices behind the wheel, like putting away handheld devices, obeying the speed limit and always buckling up," said Director Lewis. "Young drivers, in particular, are inexperienced behind the wheel and don't need additional distractions. As we have learned, the consequences of sending or reading a text can be deadly. Don't text and drive. It can wait."

Throughout the school year, AG Kilmartin and RIDOT will bring the public awareness campaign to area high schools and ask students and teachers to take the "It Can Wait" pledge. Schools interested in participating should contact the Office of Attorney General at 401-274-4400 ext 2334.

This partnership is just the latest way AT&T is continuing to spread the word about the dangers of texting and driving as part of the "It Can Wait" campaign in Rhode Island and across the country.

"We are thrilled to be working with Attorney General Kilmartin and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation on this growing public safety issue," said Patricia Jacobs, president of AT&T, New England. "Bringing the message directly to teenage drivers is especially important, as recent studies have shown they are most likely to engage in this unsafe behavior."

Kilmartin, Lewis and AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson today urged all Rhode Islanders to pledge to never text and drive, and join with others on Sept. 19 to celebrate their lifelong personal commitment to help prevent injuries and deaths caused by texting while driving. Drivers can go to www.itcanwait.com to take a no-texting-and-driving pledge, and then share their promise with others via Twitter (#itcanwait) and Facebook.

More than 100,000 times each year, an automobile crashes and countless people are injured or die because the driver was texting while driving, said AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, citing a statistic from the National Safety Council(1).

"Our goal is to save lives," Stephenson said. "I hear from far too many people whose lives have been forever changed by a texting-while-driving accident, and together, we want to spread the word about how deadly a single text can be. We'd like to see texting and driving become as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.

"We're challenging everyone to take the pledge to never text and drive and to make it a lifelong commitment," he said. "And we're challenging all device makers and app developers to offer devices that come pre-loaded with a no-text-and-drive technology solution."

A recent AT&T survey(2) found that 97 percent of teens say they know that texting is dangerous. The survey also found:

75 percent of teens surveyed say that texting while driving is "common" among their friends;

Almost all teens (89 percent) expect a reply to a text or email within five minutes or less;

And 77 percent of teens report seeing their parents text while driving.

AT&T first began its It Can Wait campaign discouraging texting and driving in 2009. The website www.itcanwait.com provides Americans an opportunity to take the don't text and drive pledge. It also offers a host of educational resources and information associated with texting while driving – including a documentary featuring families impacted by texting and driving accidents that has been viewed more than 3 million times.

For additional information on AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign, please visit www.att.com/itcanwait.

(1) National Safety Council (2) Survey conducted by Beck Research on behalf of AT&T http://www.att.com/Common/about_us/txting_driving/att_teen_survey_executive.pdf.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of the Attorney General

Online: http://www.riag.ri.gov/

Release date: 08-15-2012

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