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Another Voice: Get it straight on the dangers of distracted driving

By Marissa Shorenstein
and Anthony B. Spada

Spring is the season of life, a time of renewed energy and growth. It is a time when more people take to the roads and sidewalks and revel in warmer weather.  Despite the vibrant colors of the flowers, the sound of children playing outdoors, April is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month – a month in which we also face the grim reminder that distracted driving is as dangerous as ever.

As technology improves, the ability to stay connected to our friends, family and social media rests at our fingertips. But the decision to take your eyes off the road is not worth a life.
AAA research shows that 81 percent of drivers say texting/emailing while driving is a very serious threat to safety. AT&T research shows that more than nine in 10 people consider smartphone distracted driving to be dangerous, yet seven in 10 engage in smartphone activities while driving.

Though the majority of drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, despite the warnings, they continue the risky behavior. This is why AT&T and AAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) remain committed to educating the public on the increasing dangers of distracted driving; 70 percent of people consider distracted drivers a much bigger problem today than three years ago.

One way to curb this issue is by starting at home. All parents and guardians need to be positive role models for the young drivers in their households: Educate them never to use their phone behind the wheel and talk with them about this dangerous behavior.

Seventy-seven percent of teens say that adults tell them not to text or email while driving – but they see their parents constantly doing it themselves. And 93 percent of teens say they would stop if a parent in the car asked them to do so. This is important because drivers ages 19 to 24 were nearly twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or email while driving, per AAA research. Talk with the young drivers in your house about distracted driving, and be a good role model by putting your phone down.

One resource parents can use to talk with their children is AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign, which has one simple message: distracted driving is never OK. You’re never alone on the road, even when you’re alone in your car. Texting, video chatting, web surfing and social media endanger the lives of the drivers around you, children riding their bikes and the mother crossing the street with her newborn baby.

The campaign has inspired more than 15 million pledges from people across the country.  Take the pledge at
Another tool is AT&T DriveMode, a free app that silences incoming text message alerts when your car reaches 15 mph.

We at AAA and AT&T are proud to support the efforts of It Can Wait – and we encourage all drivers to do so. The message is simple: Keep your eyes on the road and not on your phone.

Marissa Shorenstein is the New York president/senior vice president of AT&T and Anthony Spada is president-CEO at AAA Western and Central New York and president of AAA New York State.

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