BURLINGTON - The Burlington mayor, in conjunction with the Alamance-Burlington Schools, have announced a partnership to stop texting while driving in Alamance County. This announcement came amid a national "It Can Wait" texting while driving tour that stopped at a Burlington AT&T store Thursday with a virtual texting while driving simulator.
The campaign, ongoing since 2009, includes more than 200 nationwide partners who promote the longstanding statistic that summer is the deadliest season for teenage drivers. The campaign works with a number of phone providers and other sponsors, but AT&T funds the driving simulator. North Carolina partners include the North Carolina Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association and North Carolina Department of Transportation.
AT&T senior public relations manager Josh Gelinas said, "AT&T's goal is simple. We want people to stop texting while driving. We want them to know that there's no text that can't wait. There's no text that is worth dying for. We want texting while driving to be as socially unacceptable as drinking while driving."
Gelinas said AT&T has released an app called DriveMode for the Blackberry and Android devices. Once the app has been downloaded and activated, it can customize auto-reply messages to send to people who text drivers going 25 miles per hour or faster. The app sends a respond back to the texter, saying the driver is driving and will contact him or her once he or she is finished driving.
AT&T has asked Triad residents to join the already 1.5 million people who have signed a personal pledge against texting while driving. Gelinas said people can go to ItCanWait.com on Sept. 19 and sign up. Sept. 19 is a day on which the campaign will encourage community participation in asking everyone to make the personal pledge and support the movement to stop texting while driving.
It Can Wait tour manager Griffin Hagler told News 2 Thursday that the basis behind the campaign is simply to save lives. Hagler said the group's mission is fueled by encouragement from parents and friends of those who have lost their lives to texting while driving. He said a few years ago, the group released a documentary titled The Last Text--available for viewing on ItCanWait.com
Hagler said he often asks students, customers and other viewers of his tour to think about the last text they remember sending to someone. He said he reiterates that text could be the last text the recipient ever receives.
At the event Thursday, Alamance-Burlington Schools superintendent Lillie Cox said her school district will participate in the "Drive 4 Pledges" movement hosted by students who will lead pledge-signing events at each of the district's seven high schools.