What text message is worth a life? Sending a text has now become one of the most common reasons new drivers become distracted and take their eyes off the road. While people may think that sending a quick text message from behind the wheel will not affect their ability to operate their vehicle, it has become increasingly clear that this habit has deadly consequences. Accordingly to the National Safety Council, there are more than 100,000 accidents per year where the driver was texting while driving and someone was injured or killed as a result. Towards that end, many of us know, either directly or indirectly, someone who has been affected by some sort of texting while driving accident. It is vitally important that more people become aware of the obvious risks of texting while driving. That's why I support awareness campaigns such as AT&T's initiative to help stop texting while driving. AT&T is calling on you to help reverse what has become a deadly crisis, especially among our nation's youth. AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign seeks to educate the public about the threats of texting while driving, and encourage Americans to remember that no text is worth a life.
A recent survey commissioned by AT&T as part of the campaign found that while 97 percent of teens know texting while driving is dangerous, 43 percent of them admit to sending a text while driving, and 75 percent say that their friends text while driving. While these statistics amongst young people are staggering in and of themselves, these numbers are higher among minority teenagers as 54 percent of Hispanic and 42 percent of African American teenagers report texting while driving, as compared with 41 percent of Caucasian teens.
Like most things, teens often times emulate their parents and statistics have revealed that young people, to some degree, have learned this dangerous habit from their parents.
Unfortunately, 44 percent of African American teens report seeing their parents texting while driving (compared to 38 percent of Caucasian teens and 52 percent of Hispanic teens). And while almost nine in ten teenagers report that their parents are good role models against texting while driving, they also note that they see the "hypocrisy" in adults between warning against texting while driving and then texting while they're on the road.
Even while teenagers -- and their parents -- understand that this behavior may be potentially deadly, it is still, by and large, socially acceptable. This practice has to end and I applaud AT&T in not only taking the lead in advocating against this life-threatening habit, but I am happy to see that they are raising awareness and setting a clear example for today's young people. Texting while driving is not a risk anyone can afford to take.
Today, AT&T, its employees, and supporters of the no-texting-while-driving movement are urging Americans to pledge not to text while driving. Take a moment to visit www.itcanwait.com to take this pledge, and then share your promise with others via Twitter (#itcanwait) and Facebook.
As we work to promote safe practices among our communities, I am proud to take part in such an important and life-saving effort. Together, we can work to remind one another that no text is worth a life and as AT&T puts it, "It Can Wait."
Follow John M. Burns on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JohnBurnsDC