The safety ad campaign will deploy its new resources throughout the summer, which AT&T and AAA call “the 100 deadliest days on the roads for teen drivers.”
“Texting and driving is a serious social challenge, and we look forward to partnering with leading organizations and experts around the world to answer it,” said Verizon Wireless chief Dan Mead.
The ad campaign, which kicks off May 20, “will focus on the stories of people who are living with the consequences of texting while driving.” The first story will be that of a 5-year-old left paralyzed after being hit by a woman who was texting & driving.
Materials for the new It Can Wait campaign make no mention of cell phone calls made while behind the wheel, the distracted driving behavior most frequently cited in crash reports. Researchers generally see texting & driving as the more significant danger, however, in large part because of its popularity with young drivers.
AT&T launched the It Can Wait program in March 2010 and has promoted it consistently and aggressively since then. It remains one of the highest-profile campaigns against distracted driving, along with Oprah Winfrey’s No Phone Zone pledge drive and efforts by DOT chief Ray LaHood.
In addition to the new summer ad campaign, It Can Wait plans an expanded national vehicle simulator tour and a retail push in “tens of thousands” of stores. Marketing materials will have a “prominent presence” in AT&T, Verizon, Walmart, Sprint, T-Mobile, Best Buy and RadioShack stores.
The campaign plans a “national day of action” on Sept. 19, seeking community involvement and the gathering of pledges not to text message while driving.
Other companies and organizations involved in the summer 2013 It Can Wait campaign include radio station owner Clear Channel; Goodyear with its famous blimp; and mobile phone makers including Samsung, Pantech and HTC that will install AT&T DriveMode app on AT&T mobile phones.
“Awareness of the dangers of texting and driving has increased, but people are still doing it,” said said AT&T Chairman & CEO Randall Stephenson, right. “With this expanded effort, we hope to change behavior.”
Stephenson told the AP that the four wireless carriers’ involvement makes sense, despite their publicizing the dangers of the technology behind their profits:
We have people using our technology, and when they use our technology it has some rather traumatic impacts on society. I think it’s a logical place for us to engage.
AT&T says social media have been major drivers of the It Can Wait campaign, with more than 310 million user accounts reached through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The summer campaign will enlist users of Instagram and Pinterest as well.