I was on my way home from the grocery store, restocking the fridge after returning from Haiti last week, when an ad on the radio caught my attention.
Disclosure: I am being compensated by AT&T for my involvement in the It Can Wait 100 Days Campaign. All opinions are my own.
Xzavier Davis-Bilbo was five years old in 2010 when he was hit while crossing the street. The driver was texting and driving and according to the radio spot, the woman didn’t even stop. She didn’t even slow down to notice that she had hit a little boy. The accident left Xzavier paralyzed from the waist down.
In the radio spot version of the ad, Xzavier’s mom says something that no parent will ever take for granted after hearing the ad. She said that she wishes every day that she could tell her paralyzed son to go outside and play. As a mom of 2 whose kids are always playing outside, it grabbed my heart and reinforced why it is never ok to text and drive.
Xzavier’s story and so many more are part of the It Can Wait campaign. AT&T has always advocated no texting and driving through this campaign but for the first time, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint are championing the cause and working together to promote the It Can Wait message. The collaboration among cellular carriers to promote the It Can Wait is perfectly timed because Memorial Day not only signified the start of summer but also kicked off the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers who know of the dangers of texting and driving but still engage in risky behavior.
AT&T conducted their Teen Driver Survey, a national online survey among 1,200 teenagers aged 15-19 years old on their texting and driving behaviors. Of those surveyed, 75% responded that texting and driving was very dangerous but:
- 43% admitted to texting and driving
- 60% admitted to texting at a light
- 61% engaged in glancing at their phone while driving
- 73% glanced at their phone while at a stop light
Why do kids text and drive? Because they see other adults in their lives doing it so they think it’s ok. And it’s not.
A recent AT&T survey of business commuters demonstrated that even though adults know that texting while driving is unsafe, they still engage in these behaviors. In fact:
- Adults are texting and driving more than they used to. Six in 10 commuters said they never texted while driving three years ago.
- Nearly half of commuters admit to texting while driving, which is more than teens. 49% of commuters self-report texting while driving, compared to 43 percent of teens.
- Despite knowing the risks. 98% said sending a text or email while driving isn’t safe.
- For many, texting and driving has become a way of life. More than 40% of those who admitted to texting while driving called it a habit.
Picking up your phone while in the car is never ok. All it takes is a split second of looking down to find your phone, glance at an email, or sending a single character or word to change a person’s life. As parents who text and drive, or even steal glances at our phones while in the car, we’re modeling deadly behavior for our kids and their friends who should not be following our leads.
The numbers are absolutely horrifying but as parents, we need to vow to stop picking up the phone while in the car to model appropriate behaviors for our own kids who will be driving before we know it, if they aren’t already.
Here are five things you can do to spread the It Can Wait message today:
- Resolve to stop texting and driving today. Take the pledge to not text and drive at ItCanWait.com. Make a change and hold yourself accountable when you share your story here.
- Spread the word by sharing the message through your social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest where you can find daily reasons why texting and driving can wait. Tag your social media updates with #ItCanWait.
- Join the movement by becoming an advocate and directing friends and loved ones to ItCanWait.com to learn more.
- Download the AT&T DriveMode app to curb the habit of texting and driving. Here’s a short video on how the DriveMode app works.
- Provide concrete examples about the risks and consequences of texting and driving. During the summer months, the United States Automobile Association (USAA) will collaborate with AT&T, taking the It Can Wait message to new audiences with the texting-while-driving simulator tour for a total of over 400 planned simulator events to provide a hands-on experience about the risks and consequences for young drivers. Look for these events in your area.
Images courtesy of AT&T It Can Wait