First Stop on Statewide Awareness Campaign is North Providence High School as part of National Teen Driver Safety Week
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 19- year olds in the United States. In fact, in 2014 there were 2,679 teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes and an estimated 123,000 teens were injured.
To highlight the dangers and deadly consequences of distracted driving, and in conjunction with National Teen Driver Safety Week, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin kicked off the 2016-2017 "It Can Wait" campaign at North Providence High School on Tuesday, October 18th to educate teen drivers on the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.
Now in its fifth year, Attorney General Kilmartin is once again joining with partners the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) and AT&T to bring the "It Can Wait" campaign to high schools throughout Rhode Island.
"Going into our fifth year of educating young drivers on the dangers of distracted driving we are proud of the progress we've made, but realize it's an ongoing battle to get drivers to put down their phones while operating a motor vehicle," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "All you need to do is look at the vehicle next to or behind you on the highway, or even stopped at a traffic light, to see drivers looking at their phones instead of paying attention to what is going on around them. The good news is that peer influence can have a tremendous impact on drivers' behavior, especially teen drivers, which is why it's critical to teach them the message that no post, message, email, or photo is worth a life It Can Wait."
According to data recently released by AT&T, 62 percent of drivers keep their smartphones within easy reach while driving. Nearly four in 10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving, almost three in 10 surf the net, and one in 10 even video chat while driving.
Smartphone activities people admitted to doing while driving include: Text (61%) Email (33%) Surf the net (28%) Facebook (27%) Snap a selfie/photo (17%) Twitter (14%) Instagram (14%) Shoot a video (12%) Snapchat (11%) Video chat (10%) However, data also reveals that peer influence plays a large role in driver behavior. Most people (about 75%) have almost all or most of their texts, social media interactions, and emails with just five people. The research also showed that people and their "top five" have a lot of influence over each other: More than eight in 10 people said they would likely stop or reduce their smartphone use while driving if one or more of their "top five" contacts asked them to, and Nearly 85% would be likely to stop sending smartphone communications to their "top five" when they know they're driving. Lieutenant Colonel Kevin M. Barry, Acting Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Acting Commissioner of the Department Public Safety said, "Distracted Drivers are a serious problem on our roadways. As the enforcement arm of this campaign, we are pleased to join Attorney General Kilmartin, AT&T and educators to get the message out to our most vulnerable population, DON'T TEXT and DRIVE!"
"Rhode Island continues to be a national leader in combatting distracted driving, and we're thrilled to continue our partnership with Attorney General Kilmartin and the State Police to educate students on the dangers of all forms of distracted driving. Whether it's texting, gaming or social networking, all behaviors that take your eyes off the road are dangerous," said Patricia Jacobs, president, AT&T New England. "We know we have more work to do to end this deadly epidemic. We need to come together and pledge that we will never put the lives of our loved ones or anyone's loved ones at risk by using our smartphones while driving. Programs like this one do so much to spread this important message."
Throughout the school year, Attorney General Kilmartin will continue to bring the "It Can Wait" campaign to area high schools. Interested schools are encouraged to follow the lead of North Providence High School and bring the program to their school. For more information, contact the Office of Attorney General at (401) 274-4400 ext 2007 or visit www.riag.ri.gov. To take the pledge, please visit www.att.com/itcanwait.