Presentation Marks Last One of AG Kilmartin's Term
Before more than 400 seniors in the Cranston High School East auditorium, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin gave the milestone 100th and his final "It Can Wait" presentation on the dangers of distracted driving.
Launched in September 2012 at Cranston High School East, Attorney General Kilmartin, in partnership with AT&T and the Rhode Island State Police, brought the It Can Wait program to more than 30,000 new and soon-to-be drivers at nearly every high school across the state, from Burrillville to Block Island and from Woonsocket to Westerly, often visiting schools year after year to speak with a new batch of drivers.
Joining him on stage for this final assembly as they have from the start were Patricia Jacobs, President of AT&T New England, whose nationwide It Can Wait campaign was the inspiration behind the high school program in Rhode Island, and Sergeant Gregory Cunningham of the Rhode Island State Police. A few special guests also attended including Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, Cranston School Superintendent Jeannine Nota, and Colonel Michael Winquist, Chief of the Cranston Police.
As has taken place during the 99 school assemblies before, students watched the powerful AT&T-produced documentary "The Last Text," featuring young people whose lives have been forever impacted by distracted driving, after which Attorney General Kilmartin and Sergeant Cunningham spoke about making smart choices when driving and asked that they serve as ambassadors to help end distracted driving from our roadways.
"When we launched the program in 2012, we never anticipated we'd be back here at Cranston East making our 100th presentation. The resounding success of the program is a credit to the message that distracted driving continues to be an issue on our roadways, and to the partnership we've formed with AT&T, the State Police, and local law enforcement. None of this would have been possible without their commitment to attending each school assembly, no matter how far or how early in the morning," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
"Many people today, and particularly teens and young adults, can scarcely remember life without cell phones. While the benefits of mobile devices are many, they can be a dangerous distraction when operating a motor vehicle – sometimes leading to serious crashes that result in injury and death. The need to stay focused on the road and not the phone is the central theme of It Can Wait," added the Attorney General. "Rhode Island made strides with the passage of the 'hands-free' law, but education is also key in changing driver behavior and instilling safe behavior in young drivers from the start. We hope that through peer influence and by hearing some of the tragic, real life situations that have resulted from distracted driving, more teens will realize that no text message, snap, tweet or Instagram is worth losing their own life, or worse, taking the life of another person."
Patricia Jacobs, President, AT&T New England, said "For almost a decade, AT&T's nationwide It Can Wait campaign has shared a simple message: Distracted driving is never OK. And no state has been a stronger partner in this effort than Rhode Island. In particular, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has worked tirelessly to spread this message to students in every corner of the Ocean State. The 100th It Can Wait event in the state of Rhode Island is a significant milestone that highlights the ongoing importance of this issue. Thank you to Attorney General Kilmartin for his years of service and dedication to public safety in Rhode Island. We truly believe our collective efforts have helped make a difference, but we also understand there is more work to be done. In 2018, nearly 9-in-10 people admit to using their smartphone while driving. We need to keep talking about this issue, and we need to keep reminding our friends and loved ones to put their phones down while they're behind the wheel. No text, photo, email or social media post is worth a life. It Can Wait."
"No lesson is more important for our high school students to learn than It Can Wait," said Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. "Distracted driving has become a leading cause of death and injuries here in Rhode Island and across the country. The Rhode Island State Police is proud to be a part of this program teaching our teenage drivers that no phone call, text or social media post is worth putting someone's life at risk."
"I want to commend Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin on his long-standing commitment of warning teen drivers of the dangers associated with texting while driving. The dangers of distracted driving are responsible for many crashes on our roadways today and cannot be overstated. The It Can Wait campaign led by Attorney General Kilmartin, in partnership with AT&T and local law enforcement, has ingrained this important safety message in the minds of thousands of teen drivers across our state, many of whom are now adults and are warning others to put their cell phones down while operating a motor vehicle. The Cranston Police Department has been proud to support Attorney General Kilmartin, AT&T and our law enforcement partners on this initiative and will continue to follow Attorney General Kilmartin' s lead in educating young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving well his beyond his final term as Attorney General," said Colonel Michael Winquist, Chief of the Cranston Police Department.
Unbeknownst at the time to Attorney General Kilmartin, Central Falls Police Chief and president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association, Colonel James Mendonca, presented a special honor to the Attorney General on behalf of the Police Chiefs Association for his 32 years of public service and advocacy for law enforcement and public safety in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island State Police also presented Kilmartin with a certificate of appreciation.
Following the school assembly members of the senior class escorted the Attorney General and special guests to AT&T's new virtual reality experience, which brings participants face-to-face with the very real dangers of distracted driving using virtual reality headsets. The setup also features three interactive walls that reinforce the emotional impact of distracted driving and remind participants that everyone has a role to play in keeping our roads safe. The virtual reality experience was set up outside the gym for students to try out throughout the school day.