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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2011
McKenna urges young drivers to “stop the texts and stop the wrecks”

OLYMPIA – Eighty-two percent of young adult drivers (16-24) have read a text message while driving, according to a national survey conducted by the Ad Council. In an effort to educate young drivers about the dangers of texting while driving, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, other State Attorneys General and Consumer Protection agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council are launching a new public service advertising campaign. The campaign includes TV, radio, outdoor and digital PSAs. New FacebookTwitter and YouTube social media channels about the subject are also live today.

“Every second matters when you’re behind the wheel,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna, 2012 President of the National Association of Attorneys General. “The nation’s attorneys general join the Ad Council, consumer protection agencies and NHTSA in reminding young drivers to stop texts and stop wrecks. No text, Tweet or Facebook update is worth your life.”

NHTSA reports that distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens.  Sixteen percent of all drivers younger than twenty involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) reports that a texting driver is twenty-three times more likely to be in a crash than a non-texting driver.

"Distracted driving is dangerous, and tragically, teen drivers are the most at risk of being involved in a fatal distracted driving crash," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We hope our new ad campaign will send a strong message to teens that putting away cell phones and other distractions while you’re driving is not just commonsense safe behavior, it can save your life."

The new PSAs tell teens and adults that when you text and drive, you are essentially driving blind.  All of the PSAs direct audiences to stoptextsstopwrecks.org, a new campaign website where teens and young adults can find facts about the impact of texting while driving, see tips for how to curb the behavior and share their thoughts about it, too.

“Research has shown that using a cell phone delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “Through our Texting and Driving Prevention campaign we are working towards eradicating the mindset among young adults that texting and driving is a safe activity.”

The Ad Council’s national survey released today also found that seventy-five percent of young adult drivers have sent a standard text message while driving; forty-nine percent have done it multiple times. Half of respondents say that during the past month, they have been a passenger when a friend was texting while driving. 

The online survey, commissioned by the Ad Council, was conducted in partnership with C + R Research. Research was conducted nationwide from September 15-23, 2011. The sample consisted of 1,004 teens and young adults between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four.  All respondents were required to hold a U.S. driver’s license, drive at least once per week, and have a mobile phone.

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Contacts:
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725

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