Eighty-two percent of young adult drivers, ages 16 to 24, have read a text message while driving, according to a national survey conducted by the Ad Council.
In an effort to educate young drivers about the dangers of texting while driving, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, other state attorneys general and consumer protection agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council are launching a new public service advertising campaign. The campaign includes TV, radio, outdoor and digital public service announcements along with new Facebook, Twitter and YouTube social media channels about the subject which went live last week.
"Every second matters when you're behind the wheel," said McKenna, 2012 President of the National Association of Attorneys General. "The nation's attorneys general join the Ad Council, consumer protection agencies and (traffic safety administration) in reminding young drivers to stop texts and stop wrecks. No text, Tweet or Facebook update is worth your life."
The traffic safety administration reported distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Sixteen percent of all drivers younger than age 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to be in a crash than a non-texting driver.
"Distracted driving is dangerous, and tragically, teen drivers are the most at risk of being involved in a fatal distracted driving crash," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We hope our new ad campaign will send a strong message to teens that putting away cell phones and other distractions while you're driving is not just common sense safe behavior, it can save your life."
The new public service announcements tell teens and adults that when you text and drive, you are essentially driving blind. All of the announcements direct audiences to stoptextsstopwrecks.org, a new campaign website where teens and young adults can find facts about the impact of texting while driving, see tips for how to curb the behavior and share their thoughts about it, too.
"Research has shown that using a cell phone delays a driver's reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "Through our texting and driving prevention campaign we are working towards eradicating the mindset among young adults that texting and driving is a safe activity."
The Ad Council's national survey, released last week, also found that 75 percent of young adult drivers have sent a standard text message while driving; 49 percent have done it multiple times. Half of respondents say that during the past month, they have been a passenger when a friend was texting while driving.
The online survey, commissioned by the Ad Council, was conducted in partnership with C & R Research. Research was conducted nationwide from Sept. 15-23, 2011. The sample consisted of 1,004 teens and young adults between the ages 16 to 24. All respondents were required to hold a U.S. driver's license, drive at least once per week, and have a mobile phone.