It takes the average teenager five seconds to send a text message. During that time, a car can travel the distance of a football field. During that time, the driver of a car can also cause or be involved in a serious or fatal car accident.
This was one of the key messages heard by roughly 13,000 Mobile Alabama high school students who recently took part in a nationwide Pledge Day sponsored by AT&T. As part of the mobile provider's "It Can Wait" campaign, students were asked to join together and pledge to not text, email or surf the Internet while driving.
Many of the students who participated in the pledge reported to being moved and inspired to change their behavior and encourage others to also stop texting while driving. This is encouraging, given that statistics show that roughly 75 percent of teens admit that either they or their friends text and drive. Organizers of the event are hopeful programs such as Pledge Day will help change teens' opinions and behaviors related to texting and driving.
Many students viewing the program were visibly moved when a police officer recalled responding to a car accident in which a teenage girl was killed. The girl's high school graduation was the very next day and she had her cap and gown in the backseat. The girl had been texting when she ran off the road and was killed.
Alabama's texting ban went into effect last month on Aug. 1. While it's too soon to evaluate the effectiveness of the ban in discouraging drivers from texting while driving, officials hope to influence future generations by targeting young drivers.
Source: Mobile Press-Register, "No texting while driving, thousands of Mobile Country teenagers pledge," Rena Havner Philips, Sept. 19, 2012