Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Announces PSA Campaign to Stop Teens from Texting and Driving

Press Release Date:  Thursday, October 27, 2011  
Contact Information:  Allison Martin
Communications Director
502-696-5651 (office)
 


Eighty-two percent of young-adults (16-24) have read a standard 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, Attorney General Jack Conway, other state Attorneys General, consumer protection agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council are launching a new nationwide public service announcement (PSA) campaign. The campaign includes television, radio, outdoor sign and digital PSAs. Additionally, to extend the campaign messages to social media followers, new Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels go live today.

"In this age of instant wireless communications, teens are constantly tempted to ‘check in' on what their friends and family are sending them via text, on email or through social networks," General Conway said. "The message today from our partners is that your friends and family want you to put safety first. There is no text message, no tweet, or Facebook status updates that is worth risking your life or someone else's life."

NHTSA reports that distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Sixteen percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) reports that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into 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 television, radio, outdoor sign and digital PSAs were created pro bono by New York advertising agency The Concept Farm. The PSAs communicate to teens and adults that when you text and drive, you are not multitasking, but essentially driving blind. By taking your eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, you are making the road less safe for you, your passengers and other drivers. 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 and tips for how to curb the behavior. The website also has an area where individuals can post, and share on Facebook, what they are doing to stop texting and driving.

"For more than 25, we have been working with NHTSA to successfully address drunk-driving prevention. The term ‘designated driver' is now a part of the American vocabulary, but even more importantly, 67percent of all adults have tried to stop someone from drinking and driving," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "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. 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 75 percent of young adult drivers have sent a standard text message while driving; 49 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.

A social media program kicking off this week will help drive the point home on social-networking sites and blogs nationwide. Non-profit partners such as NOYS (National Organizations for Youth Safety) and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) will help spread the message by reaching out to their members across the country.

Since 2006, the Ad Council has partnered with the state Attorneys General to address reckless driving among teens. To date, the campaign has received more than $88.7 million in donated media support. For more than 25 years, the Ad Council and NHTSA have worked together on consumer safety PSA campaigns. Per the Ad Council's model, all of the new PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

The online survey, commissioned by the Ad Council, was conducted in partnership with C + R Research. Research was conducted nationwide from September 15 to 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.