When it Comes to Texting and Driving: It Can Wait

by John Sondag, President, AT&T Missouri

School is now in session, which means football on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, temperatures are about to get cooler, and teens across Missouri and the rest of America are back in class.

With teens driving to and from school, work, and after school activities, it is important that, in addition to the rules of the road, we focus on educating teens, their families, and their communities about the dangers of texting and driving.

It can be hard for anyone, whether they are a teenager or an adult, to resist the urge to respond quickly to a text. In fact, a recent poll found that 43 percent of teens openly admit to texting and driving. The same survey found that nine out of ten teens expect recipients of their texts and emails to respond within five minutes. The pressure is on. This data clearly shows that the temptation to text while driving is greater than ever before.

That’s why AT&T developed AT&T DriveMode, an app that auto-responds to any incoming texts with a message that says they’ll reply when it is safe. It silences incoming text noises and sends calls to voicemail, minimizing the temptation to respond. Our goal is to send a simple message to anyone who considers texting while driving: it can wait.

Sending a text takes an average of five seconds. But doing that while traveling 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with a blindfold on. It sounds unbelievable that anyone would unnecessarily close their eyes for a full five seconds while driving on the highway, but that’s effectively what you are doing if you send a text while driving.

AT&T is committed to educating the public – particularly teens – on the risks of texting behind the wheel. AT&T’s ongoing efforts also include work with non-profit, safety-focused organizations, like the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS), to educate teens about the choices they’re making when they text and drive. AT&T also created “The Last Text,” a powerful, 10-minute documentary that features real stories about lives that have been dramatically altered by texting and driving.

You can help spread the word by visiting www.itcanwait.com, watching the documentary, signing the “It Can Wait” pledge, and letting your friends, loved ones, colleagues, and community know that texting while driving is taking an unacceptable risk. Texting while driving doesn’t just affect you; it can change the lives of the passengers in your car, your family, and strangers on the road. Texting while driving puts everyone’s safety at risk.

It’s an exciting time to be young—the world is changing faster than ever before and AT&T plays a big part in the innovations that are connecting us and revolutionizing our way of life. But as technology progresses and mobile solutions become an even bigger part of our lives, we have to step back and remind ourselves that unless used responsibly, technology can have very real consequences. While being connected is important, while you are driving, it can wait.

AT&T encourages everyone to visit www.itcanwait.com and take the pledge not to text while driving.