Tahlequah Daily Press

September 17, 2013

Phone companies lead the charge in ‘Don’t text and drive movement


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TAHLEQUAH — A  movement is accomplished through the voices and actions of many. That is why four national wireless service providers, spearheading the It Can Wait campaign, are urging people to share their commitment to never text and drive with others on Drive 4 Pledges Day, Thursday, Sept. 19.

Northeastern State University has joined the movement to put an end to texting while driving. Texting while driving, an extremely dangerous practice, contributes to thousands of auto accidents every year. Oklahomans can text OKPledge to 464329 to join the thousands of others around the country who are pledging never to text while behind the wheel.

“Driver safety is something we take very seriously and we urge all drivers to consider the cost of lost lives and serious injury and remember that when it comes to texting and driving, It Can Wait. Together, we can make a difference and make Oklahoma a safer place,” said Jerry Cook, Director of Community and Government Relations at Northeastern State University.

Individuals can sign up at ItCanWait.com to get resources that will help them share their commitment on social media and personalize the movement on the streets of their communities on key activation days. Aspiring to create a social stigma around this dangerous habit of texting while driving, Drive 4 Pledges Day will focus on getting individuals involved in taking the pledge to never text and drive while encouraging others in their community to do the same. These individuals will join AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US, Inc., Verizon and more than 200 other organizations by sharing their commitment not to text and drive while increasing awareness of the dangers.

On Thursday, Drive 4 Pledges Day, supporters of the movement are called to help spread the word to their families, friends and communities.

Advocates will be encouraged to do things like change their social profile photos and banner to It Can Wait graphics, and share their personal pledge stories using the hashtag #ItCanWait. Offline activations will include hosting pledge drives and distributing posters in their schools, workplaces and neighborhoods. All materials such as social graphics and posters will be available for download from ItCanWait.com.

“Texting while driving claims too many lives, and raising awareness of this completely preventable tragedy is key to saving them,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “We’ve seen success before through our seatbelts and our drunk driving campaigns, and I both applaud the It Can Wait campaign for its efforts to raise awareness and encourage everyone to make a commitment on Drive 4 Pledges Day to drive focused and distraction-free."

A ConnectSafely.org survey found that individuals who speak up can have a profound impact, particularly on teens.

Survey results show 78 percent of teen drivers say they’re likely not to text and drive if friends tell them it's wrong or stupid; 90 percent say they’d stop if a friend in the car asked them to; 93 percent would stop if a parent in the car asked them to; 44 percent say that they would be thankful if a passenger complained about their texting while driving.

To take the pledge and get more information, visit www.ItCanWait.com.