The Automobile Association of America (AAA) calls the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer.” With more teen drivers on the road during the summer with school being out, it’s easy to see the correlation. As our smartphones get smarter, our dependence on them grown, to the point where 43% of surveyed teenagers admit to texting and driving at the same time. While I’m sure that number is certainly on the low side, it’s still high enough to be an enormous problem.
In response to this, AT&T commissioned a survey as part of its “It Can Wait” campaign to curb teen texting while driving. The results are more than disturbing. 1,200 teens aged 15-19 were surveyed regarding their driving and texting habits. 97% of teens know texting while driving is dangerous, 43% admit to doing it, and 75% say that their friends do it on a regular basis. Teens are also more likely to send five times more texts a day than the average adult. Those who send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash, according to Virginia Tech Transportation Research. No wonder their car insurance premiums are so high.
In Oregon, AT&T also teamed up with the University of Oregon to offer a text and drive simulator to the public. The simulator used a video-game style scenario to show the dangers of multitasking while driving. Nearly every participant hit a parked car, person, animal, or ran off the road during the simulation.
Studies and surveys like these show that it is important that everyone, not just teens, are focused on the primary task at hand- driving. AT&T’s “It Can Wait” initiative is needed and hopefully will be heeded by all. Just like a seatbelt, putting the phone away while driving can certainly save lives. Especially when you hear that texting while driving is actually UP 50% from 2010 to 2011. Honestly, it really can wait.