AG Kilmartin Brings “It Can Wait” Campaign to East Providence High School
Urges students to say “no” to snapping selfies, posting pics, and updating status while driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 19- year olds in the United States. In fact, in 2014 there were 2,679 teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes and an estimated 123,000 teens were injured.
To highlight the dangers and deadly consequences of distracted driving, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin brought the “It Can Wait” campaign to East Providence High School on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 to speak with the junior class on the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.
Now in its fifth year, Attorney General Kilmartin is joining with partners the Rhode Island State Police (RISP), AT&T, and the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to bring the “It Can Wait” campaign to schools throughout Rhode Island.
This is the 75th school visit by the Attorney General on “It Can Wait” and the last scheduled presentation for the 2016-2017 school year. Since the interactive campaign’s launch in 2012, more than 25,000 new and young drivers have pledged to put their cell phones away while operating a motor vehicle, and have promised to remind friends and family to do the same.
During the school assembly, students watched the powerful documentary “The Last Text,” featuring young people impacted by distracted driving, and signed a pledge to not use their phones while driving. In addition, East Providence High School Junior Ashlyn Messier demonstrated the dangers of distracted driving using the AT&T driving simulator.
“As we conclude our fifth year of educating young drivers on the dangers of distracted driving, we are proud of the progress that’s been made. During this school year alone, we reached 11 schools and saw an estimated 3,000 young people sign the “It Can Wait” pledge. However, we realize it’s an ongoing battle to get drivers to put down their phones while operating a motor vehicle,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “All you need to do is look at the vehicle next to or behind you on the highway, or even stopped at a traffic light, to see drivers looking at their phones instead of paying attention to what is going on around them. The good news is that peer influence can have a tremendous impact on drivers’ behavior, especially teen drivers, which is why it’s critical to teach them the message that no post, message, email, or photo is worth a life…It Can Wait.”
According to data recently released by AT&T , 62 percent of drivers keep their smartphones within easy reach while driving. Nearly four in 10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving, almost three in 10 surf the net, and one in 10 even video chat while driving.
Smartphone activities people admitted to doing while driving include:
However, data also reveals that peer influence plays a large role in driver behavior. Most people (about 75%) have almost all or most of their texts, social media interactions, and emails with just five people. The research also showed that people and their “top five” have a lot of influence over each other:
- More than eight in 10 people said they would likely stop or reduce their smartphone use while driving if one or more of their “top five” contacts asked them to, and
- Nearly 85% would be likely to stop sending smartphone communications to their “top five” when they know they’re driving.
Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police said, "Distracted Drivers are a serious problem on our roadways. As the enforcement arm of this campaign, we are pleased to join Attorney General Kilmartin, AT&T and educators to get the message out to our most vulnerable population, DON'T TEXT and DRIVE!"
“Rhode Island continues to be a national leader in combatting distracted driving, and we're thrilled to continue our partnership with Attorney General Kilmartin and the State Police to educate students on the dangers of all forms of distracted driving. Whether it’s texting, gaming or social networking, all behaviors that take your eyes off the road are dangerous,” said Patricia Jacobs, president, AT&T New England. “We know we have more work to do to end this deadly epidemic. We need to come together and pledge that we will never put the lives of our loved ones – or anyone’s loved ones – at risk by using our smartphones while driving. Programs like this one do so much to spread this important message."
“We are eager to join with Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, the State Police and AT&T in this important effort to halt distracted driving,” said Walter R. Craddock, administrator of the Rhode Island DMV. “Each of us must recognize that we have a responsibility to drive carefully by keeping our attention focused on the road and not our cellphones. Driving is a hazardous activity; we can all live without the distraction of texting while driving.
While this year’s “It Can Wait” campaign has wrapped up, school officials who are interested in bringing the program to their school next year are asked to visit www.riag.ri.gov. To take the pledge, please visit www.att.com/itcanwait.