News / USA

Deadly Dangers of Texting Exposed

'Texting Can Wait' campaign sends strong message to teens


Faiza Elmasry

'Texting Can Wait,' is a 10-minute documentary that is available on the Internet.
'Texting Can Wait,' is a 10-minute documentary that is available on the Internet.

"Where u at?"

Those three words were the last text message Mariah West read before the violent car crash that took her life.

"It was the day before my daughter’s graduation from high school. She was on her way to a ball game and was getting directions," says Merry Dye, Mariah's mother. "The eyewitness report says for no apparent reason, she lost control of her car, crossed the center median, clipped a bridge, then flipped across two more lanes of traffic. No parent wants to receive that phone call."

Dye shares her story in a new documentary, "Texting Can Wait," which she hopes will send a clear message to teen drivers.

"In just three seconds, if you’re going down the interstate, you can cover the length of, I think, five football fields. A lot can happen in that amount of distance in that short amount of time. It’s not a matter of if you would have an accident, but when."

The 10-minute documentary is available on the Internet and was produced by AT&T, a telecommunication company that makes cellphones and other devices teens can use to text.

"We realized that the most effective way to actually bring the message to teenagers and adults would be to tell real stories," says Gail Torreano, a senior vice president at AT&T. "We have a young man in the documentary, Will, who was a passenger in a car and was in an accident. He has suffered brain damage as a result of that."

Studies have shown people who text while driving are six-to-eight times more likely to have an accident than drivers who are focused on the road. According to the latest available government statistics, nearly 6,000 deaths on U.S. highways in 2008 were due to distracted driving. The "Texting Can Wait" documentary, Torreano says, is one of the tools AT&T is using in its campaign against distracted driving.

"We’re trying to share this documentary so that more and more teenagers will see it," says Gail Torreano. "We actually do have employees in all states. We’ve had employees take it directly to schools. But we also have a partnership with the National Organization for Youth Safety and they have all sorts of contacts in the educational system across the country. So they too are going to do that."

Sandy Spavone, executive director of the National Organization for Youth Safety, says texting while driving is so dangerous because it demands a great deal of attention.

"The problem with texting behind the wheel is that it includes all three distractions," says Spavone. "It’s a visual distraction because many of them still glance down at their phone to either read the text or to grab their phone to see who sent them a text so they can respond. You also have the manual distraction, which takes their hands off the wheel so they can text, as well as the cognitive distraction where they are taking their minds off what they are doing, either reading the text or responding to a friend."

The "It Can Wait" campaign empowers teens to be part of the solution.

"'It Can Wait Campaign' helped us develop a teen-distracted-driving leadership team of 20 youths from across the country. These teens came to the Department of Transportation’s Distracted Driving Summit," says Spavone. "They have created a program of work they are hosting in their local communities."

The ultimate goal of the campaign is to make sure teen drivers get the message that texting behind the wheel is an unacceptable and dangerous behavior - one that can wait until you’re out of traffic.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs