Text messaging has experienced a tenfold increase in the past three years*, according to CTIA -- The Wireless Association. Unfortunately, this texting boom means that many may be tap-tapping away at perhaps the worst possible time: while driving.
Today, at the Detroit Economic Club, AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson will announce AT&T's commitment to address this issue through an initiative to communicate to wireless consumers, especially youth, on the dangers of texting behind the wheel.
"Texting has increasingly become the way to communicate for many people, and the urge to quickly read and respond -- even while driving -- can be tempting," said Stephenson. "Our goal is to send a simple, yet vital, message to all wireless users: don't text and drive."
Stephenson said AT&T will be participating in the Distracted Driving Summit, hosted by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Department of Transportation, which starts tomorrow in Washington, D.C.
"We commend the administration for putting a spotlight on this important issue and bringing the industry together to discuss solutions," said Stephenson. "We hope others will join us in prohibiting their employees from texting while driving and helping educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving."
The new campaign is expected to reach millions and includes:
* AT&T Employee Education: AT&T is in the process of revising its wireless and motor vehicle policies to expressly prohibit texting while driving. AT&T, one of the country's leading employers and with one of the largest commercial fleets, is also incorporating a section on the dangers of texting while driving in its defensive driving classes for employees who drive on the job. All of the company's nearly 290,000 employees are required to review AT&T's policies periodically. Employees who drive as part of their job are also required to take refresher defensive driving classes.
* Handset Messaging: In time for the busy holiday selling season, the majority of new devices from AT&T will begin to include the don't-text-and-drive message on the plastic clings that protect handset screens through AT&T's more than 16,000 company-owned stores and kiosks, authorized dealers and third party retail locations throughout the U.S. AT&T is working with handset and device manufacturers to ensure that as many AT&T wireless devices as possible will eventually carry the campaign message -- either via screen clings or in the user guides and other collateral.
* Public Service Announcements: AT&T will produce a series of public service announcements (PSAs). The PSAs, some of which will include high-profile spokespersons, will appear in the coming months and will be targeted to a variety of audiences -- from adults to parents and teens -- to discourage texting while driving. As one of America's leading advertisers, AT&T will work with media outlets, both traditional and digital, to secure significant exposure for these educational spots.
* Online Resources: AT&T will create an online resource center for downloadable tools and tips for parents, high school educators and others on this issue. Tools will include a parent-teen pledge, posters for high school drivers' education classes, as well as a teacher's guide, tip sheet and fact sheet. AT&T's Web site is a popular online destination, attracting millions of unique visitors each month.
* Customer Communications: AT&T reaches millions of customers every day through a variety of touch points that include catalogs, in-store signage and collateral, bills, e-mails, opt-in text messages and newsletters, as well as via AT&T U-verse(SM) TV on-air channels, which have the potential to reach 1.6 million subscribers. Campaign messaging on this issue will also be integrated throughout these and other customer touch points.
* Support Safety Organizations: AT&T will continue to work with CTIA -- The Wireless Association (www.ctia.org), The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) and other third parties to support their efforts to educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving.
* CTIA - The Wireless Association (http://ctia.org/advocacy/research/index.cfm/AID/10323)
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