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Charlene Lake

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Texting While Driving: An Instant Can Change Your Life... Your Life Can Change in an Instant

Posted: 08/15/2012 11:10 am

Wil Craig knows he's lucky to be alive.

When they brought him to the hospital, he had traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung and broken ribs. The doctors gave him a 4% chance of survival.

When he awoke after 8 weeks in a coma, he was told that he would never walk, talk or graduate high school.

I'm happy to say that Wil proved his doctors wrong. After long, painful rehabilitation, he relearned how to walk and regained his ability to speak. Not only did he graduate from high school, he's now attending college in Kentucky, and doing well.

Wil had the misfortune to be riding in a car whose driver was speeding and texting. The driver glanced down to read an incoming text, lost control and crashed into a tree at 120 MPH.

The driver wasn't hurt. But all it took was one text -- "Where R?" -- to change the trajectory of Wil's life forever.

I share this story for a reason. Part of my job at AT&T is to help lead our company's efforts to put an end to texting while driving. And the statistics I see every day are terrifying.

Studies show that people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to end up in an accident. And more than 100,000 accidents occur each year because a driver is texting behind the wheel.

But here's the problem with statistics: After a while, they become background noise. It's easy to lose sight of the real people behind these numbers.

That's why I wanted to introduce you to Wil.

I met Wil at a "No Texting While Driving" youth summit. And his story hit me in a way that all the statistics in the world never could.

It reminded me how life can change in an instant. And how an instant can change a life.


Today, at the start of the new school year, that's something we all should remember.

I'm proud to work for a company that has committed serious resources to fight this growing problem. This morning, AT&T intensifies its push to build a nationwide movement to put an end to the dangerous practice of texting while driving.

It all revolves around a simple idea: No text is worth dying for.

We are calling on all drivers to visit www.itcanwait.com and take a pledge never to text and drive. We're asking them to share that pledge with their friends and followers through Facebook and Twitter (#itcanwait) and encourage everyone they know to join in the movement.

Then, on September 19, we'll celebrate those pledges, along with encouraging as many more people as possible to make a lifelong commitment to never read or send texts while driving.
Employees at AT&T are stepping up to the challenge to be good examples. Studies show that when kids see their friends texting while driving, or see adults doing the same, they are far more likely to do so themselves. Our goal is to change these behaviors once and for all. We want to make texting and driving as unacceptable as drinking and driving.

Our expanded initiative will help make that goal a reality. We will have many groups joining us to fight this issue and many angles to address this problem.

But what I want you to remember today is not a dollar amount, a statistic or a timeline. I want you to remember Wil.

As he will be the first to tell you, no text or email is worth risking your life.

 
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