Campaign launched to curb texting while driving

Cell phone companies launch campaign to curb texting while driving

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AT&T,  Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile are launching a campaign to cut down on texting and driving. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile are launching a campaign to cut down on texting and driving.
"Even though it's the law not to text and drive, you still have people doing it. That's the challenge we face. It just doesn't seem like the message is getting through," said Alan Hill, AT&T regional director. "Even though it's the law not to text and drive, you still have people doing it. That's the challenge we face. It just doesn't seem like the message is getting through," said Alan Hill, AT&T regional director.
The "It Can Wait" campaign will bring texting while driving simulators into local communities. The "It Can Wait" campaign will bring texting while driving simulators into local communities.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Wireless providers, government agencies and retailers are getting behind a campaign to stop texting while driving.

The effort launching later this month has a special focus on the summer months.

The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day has been dubbed the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers.

It's been just shy of four years since texting while driving became illegal in Tennessee.

The numbers show more people admit to texting and driving and that more people are getting caught.

On May 20, wireless providers Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile and 200 other organizations will join in support of AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign.  

The multi-million dollar national advertising campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving.

"Even though it's the law not to text and drive, you still have people doing it. That's the challenge we face. It just doesn't seem like the message is getting through," said Alan Hill, AT&T regional director.    

The "It Can Wait" campaign will bring texting while driving simulators into local communities, along with providing a retail presence in tens of thousands of stores and outreach to millions of consumers.  

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett endorsed the program last year. 

Nationally, there have been 1.5 million pledges made for people not text while driving.

"What we need is more people to pledge, but what we need is more people to pledge and do it. It's a matter of life and death," Hill said. 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol issued 246 citations for texting as of Monday. 

In 2012, THP issued 380, but only 179 in 2011. 

"The increase shows the Tennessee's Department of Safety is serious about keeping texting and driving down. That's a good thing. It shows concern and the willingness for them to get out there and make sure it doesn't happen as much as they can," said Don Lindsey, AAA director of public affairs.

Knox County Sheriff's Lieutenant Todd Clark, a 20-year veteran of the department, notices the problem has been increasing. 

"It seems like in the last year or two, we've seen more instances of it everywhere we go," Clark said. 

Historically, texting while driving had been labeled as a problem with teenagers. Recent studies show adults text more than teenagers while driving. 

A survey conducted as part of the "It Can Wait" campaign found that 98% of adults that they surveyed admitted that they texted while driving. In contrast, 48% of teenagers said they texted while driving.

In 2012 alone, there were 1,220 traffic crashes in Tennessee where cell phone use was indicated, 94 in Knox County alone.

Tennessee as a whole reported far more deadly crashes involving cell phones than any other state.

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