Grabbing the virtual wheel to put a stop to epidemic of texting while driving

How do you convince invincible teens that texting while driving could kill them or might kill someone else?

How do you convince invincible teens that texting while driving could kill them or might kill someone else?

That's the challenge AT&T tackled in 2012 with the help of FleishmanHillard to address what US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood described as a “national epidemic.”

Since 2009, AT&T has campaigned against texting while driving, focusing on the insight that most texts are trivial and featuring people whose lives have been forever changed by texting-while-driving accidents.

In 2012, we grabbed the wheel to take our It Can Wait campaign to the next level. We introduced a texting-and-driving simulator to provide hands-on experiences.

The simulator, accessible online and through traveling gaming chairs, has put more than 50,000 teens behind the wheel nationwide to virtually experience the dangers of texting and driving.

AT&T declared September 19 No Text on Board Pledge Day and held a press conference in Washington, DC, with our CEO Randall Stephenson, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, George Washington University president Steven Knapp, award-winning actor Hill Harper, and LaHood.

That day, we released the simulator, which was the centerpiece of more than 70 local events nationwide, through
the remainder of the year.

By the end of 2012, more than 1.2 million pledges never to text and drive had been made at ItCanWait.com, on Facebook, at events, or through texts or tweets. 

More than 4,000 media stories generated more than 1 billion impressions. More than 250 million unique user accounts had been reached through social, and 165 organizations stepped forward to support the campaign.

In January, we extended the effort by carrying out a survey to help make the issue relevant to corporate collaborators. Research conducted by AT&T found commuters text more than teens – 49% versus 43%. 

The commuter survey announcement helped generate more than 1,000 stories with more than 350 million impressions in Q1, and helped drive the pledge count to 1.4 million.

In March, we called on employers to help end texting while driving by taking action during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.

This month, we'll be announcing significant corporate collaborators who will help us take the movement to the next level – changing minds and behaviors, and saving lives. 

Larry Solomon is SVP, corporate communications at AT&T.

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