By Jacie Shoaf
The Statehouse File
INDIANAPOLIS – Racecar drivers, corporate and government leaders – including Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined together Tuesday for the first ever nationwide Stop the Texts Day.
Stop the Texts Day is part of an Ad Council campaign called “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.” The public service announcement campaign is meant to prevent texting and driving, which is already banned by Indiana law.
“I am glad that I was able to be a part of this project. The Ad Council folks do a good job of bringing awareness to causes such as this,” NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne said in a statement. “Hopefully this will help people realize how dangerous texting while driving can be.”
The public service announcements featuring Kahne were unveiled Tuesday as part of Stop the Texts Day. It is also the beginning of National Youth Traffic Safety Month.
The advertising agency RPA created the television, radio and digital public service announcements to encourage drivers, especially young drivers, to keep their attention on the road and not on the phone.
The ads direct viewers to www.stopthetextsstopthewrecks.org, a website that reinforces the importance of attentive driving with tips and statistics. Viewers are also invited to share status updates from the campaign’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
“Our latest research shows that young adult drivers continue to text and drive even with the knowledge that the act can seriously injure or kill others or themselves,” said Peggy Conlon, president of the Ad Council. “With the help of NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne, we are sending a wake-up call to young adult drivers that if you take your eyes off the road to read or respond to text messages there can be unfortunate consequences. We would encourage everyone to participate in Stop the Text Day to help us end the dangerous act of texting and driving.”
The Ad Council released a national survey May 1 that found that texting while driving remains common. About 60 percent of respondents said they have texted while behind the wheel.
The survey also found that 44 percent of young adult drivers are most influenced by their friends when it comes to encouraging safe driving habits. Parents follow that statistic at 33 percent.
Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cited 3,000 deaths and 416,000 injuries in 2010 caused by distracted driving, which includes texting while behind the wheel. The NHTSA also said distracted driving is the number one killer of American teenagers.
Indiana has a law against texting while driving, but it often goes on without punishment.
“Distracted driving is dangerous no matter what level of experience you have behind the wheel,” Zoeller said. “Many motorists drive distracted despite Indiana’s texting and emailing while driving ban. Stop the Texts Day gives us an opportunity to share with our friends and family the need to stop the texts and save lives.”
Jacie Shoaf is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.