Initiatives to End Distracted Driving

By: Amelia Nahmias Email
By: Amelia Nahmias Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va --- About 100,000 times per year, a car crashes and injures or kills people because the driver was texting while driving. Teen drivers are the most at risk. In an AT&T survey, 75-percent of teens say texting and driving is common among their friends.

A rest stop in Mt Sydney is also called a “safe phone zone.” That means it is a place for drivers to pull over to make a call or text.

Virginia leaders, along with organizers of AT&T's “It Can Wait” initiative, want drivers to think twice before they text and drive.

A WHSV reporter spoke to a few drivers at a Virginia rest stop to hear their thoughts on the issue. One of those drivers, Rob Howard, said he likes the idea of getting distracted drivers off the roads.

"Anything we can do to keep people from texting and phoning while driving within reason sounds like a good idea to me," said Howard.

Howard and his wife are retired and travel for fun. Most of the time they do not have problems with being distracted in the car.

"Normally traveling together, so the one who is not driving can do all the phoning we need done."

Another driver, Karen Reinke, said when she travels alone, she uses her resources to stay focused on driving.

"I have Bluetooth in my phone. I have voice to text, which helps a lot," said Reinke.

Unfortunately her kids do not do the same thing.

"Mine are guilty of taking pictures while they're driving down the road and posting them to Facebook and things like that."

AT&T is using this initiative to teach people the dangers of doing that and try to make it a little safer.

Virginia is joining in on the effort by declaring Wednesday No Text on Board day. They want people to pledge to never text and drive again. A smartphone app, created by AT&T, makes it easy to not text and drive.

"AT&T actually created an app. It's called the AT&T Drive Mode app, and what it does is it actually sends a message back to anyone trying to send you a text message, and lets them know that you are driving and can't text them back right now," said Assistant AT&T Manager Greg Martin.

Reinke said she thought the app is useful.

"I think it's a great idea, especially for the ones who are just starting to drive," said Reinke.

Drivers at the rest stop agreed that the best way to prevent distracted driving was to stop off the highway to use a phone.

"These kind of places make a lot of sense," said Howard about the safe phone zone.

Sending or reading a text means that a driver may not be looking at the road for about five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, that is the same as driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded.

The point of Wednesday's initiative was a driver's next text can wait.

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