NEWS | Sept. 12, 2011

Texting and driving ... the text can wait

By 628th Air Base Wing Safety Office

According to the Wireless Association, text messaging has experienced a tenfold increase in the past three years. It is becoming the way many people communicate today, which means some people may be doing it at the worst possible time - while driving.

For many, the allure to quickly read and respond - even from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle - can be tempting. But texting and driving is dangerous. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in some type of safety critical event as compared to those drivers who don't text while driving,

These statistics are so alarming that companies are attempting to educate consumers to be safe while using their technology. AT&T launched the "It Can Wait" Texting and Driving campaign to educate consumers about the dangers of texting while driving. The goal is to educate all wireless users, especially teen drivers, that there is a smart way to text.

Here's a simple test:
Take out your wireless device. Read the last text message you received out loud. Would reading or responding to that text message from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle be worth the risk of getting into a car accident or worse? Chances are the text message could wait.

Put safety first when you are in the driver's seat and follow these tips:

· Be Smart. Don't text and drive. No text message is worth being distracted while you drive.

· Be in control. Remember it's your phone. You decide if and when to send and read texts so take control. Consider turning your phone off, setting it to silent or even set it aside before hitting the road.

· Be Caring. Don't send a text when you know your family member, friend or co-worker is driving.

· Be Focused. Never use your phone to take pictures, send and read messages, record video or watch TV while driving.

· Be an Example. Don't send the wrong signal by texting while you drive. This is especially important if you have a teen driver in the household. Your family and friends will follow your example.

· Be Proactive. Make a personal pledge not to text and drive and encourage your family members, friends and co-workers to do the same.

· Be Aware. If you have teens, some wireless companies offer parents an easy way to manage their teen's phone functionality, such as the time of day the phone can be used for messaging, Web browsing or outbound calling. However, 911 calls are always allowed and parents can also set up "allowed numbers" that teens can call as parents or others deem appropriate.

A documentary titled "The Last Text" features stories of individuals whose lives have been adversely affected by texting behind the wheel. The documentary is part of AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign and is being distributed to educators, government officials, safety organizations and the public as part of this educational awareness campaign. The individuals in the documentary shared their stories because of how deeply they feel about the dangers of texting and driving.

View and hear their stories at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DebhWD6ljZs
The message is simple, yet vital: When it comes to texting and driving, it can wait.