1.6 million. That’s the number of estimated drivers who are involved in an accident due to texting behind the wheel, according to the National Safety Council.
Wireless providers are hoping to change that number.
On Thursday, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US, Inc., Verizon and more than 200 other organizations nationwide will be participating in “Drive 4 Pledges Day.” The nationwide event is part of the “It Can Wait,” movement, a national campaign designed to deter drivers from texting and driving.
Over 2,000 Drive 4 Pledge activities will be held in communities across the nation, including events at more than 1,500 high schools, a national twitter campaign and a three day rally in the nation’s capital.
"Texting while driving claims too many lives, and raising awareness of this completely preventable tragedy is key to saving them,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “We’ve seen success before through our seatbelts and our drunk driving campaigns, and I applaud the It Can Wait campaign for its efforts to raise awareness and encourage everyone to make a commitment on Drive 4 Pledges Day to drive focused and distraction-free."
Turlock resident Kathy Halsey, who serves as a consultant for AT&T, stated that the local community shouldn’t brush off accidents associated with texting and driving as just another statistic.
“This is something that is happening in our own backyard,” said Halsey. “Our kids think they’re invincible, and that’s just not the case.”
Last year Halsey hosted a pledge campaign at the campus of a local school. She said the experience was life changing.
“I had one young man come up to me in a wheelchair and said this happened because someone else was texting and driving,” said Halsey. “I then realized how truly prevalent this really is.”
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, texting while driving makes an individual 23 times more likely to crash and is the equivalent of driving under the influence of four beers.
In 2011, nearly 25 percent of all accidents had a cell phone involved in them.
However, Halsey believes that national campaigns like Drive 4 Pledges are excellent avenues in preventing texting and driving. She also stated that young drivers are more prone to sign up for pledges if they see their friends doing the same.
“We need to do everything we can to make people take this pledge,” said Halsey.
Those interested in taking the pledge can sign up at www.itcanwait.com.