NASCAR Driver Kasey Kahne is helping the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Ad Council and State Attorneys General by reminding young drivers of the dangers of texting and driving, Attorney General Bob Cooper announced today.
Sixty percent of young adult drivers (16-24) said they have texted while driving, according to a national survey released by the Ad Council although such risky behavior has been against the law in Tennessee and many other states for more than a year. For this reason, Attorney General Cooper and other state attorneys general along with NHTSA and the Ad Council today revealed new public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne. The new PSAs are being unveiled today to coincide with the first nationwide Stop the Texts Day, and the start of National Youth Traffic Safety Month.
NHTSA reports that distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. In 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed and an additional 416,000 were injured due to distracted driving, which includes texting while driving. The Ad Council's national survey of 862 teens and young adults released today also found that 44 percent of the respondents said their friends were their most influential source to encourage them to curb their texting and driving habits, followed by their parents (33 percent). Most notably, 88 percent of texting drivers said a law against the behavior would encourage them to completely stop or be less likely to text while driving. Additionally, 96 percent of young adult drivers said significant financial and legal consequences would encourage them not to text while driving.
"It's clear that young drivers are still not getting the message that texting and driving can carry deadly consequences in addition to being prohibited by Tennessee law, " Attorney General Cooper said, referring to the law passed in 2009 that prohibits the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving (Tennessee Code Annotated 55-8-199).
The goal of Stop the Texts Day is to extend the message of the "Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks." texting and driving prevention PSA campaign via social media in an effort to educate young drivers about the risks of texting while driving. Friends and parents of young adult drivers, and other safe driving advocates are invited to share status updates from the campaign's Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the day on why texting while driving is such a risky behavior. Additionally, supporters can write an open letter to young adults imploring them to not text while driving on the campaign's Tumblr. A complete toolkit for Stop the Texts Day is also available to provide additional ways the public can participate.
Kasey Kahne's public service announcements are to encourage young adult drivers to leave risky driving to the professionals. "I am glad that I was able to be a part of this project," the NASCAR driver said. "The Ad Council folks do a good job of bringing awareness to causes such as this. Hopefully this will help people realize how dangerous texting while driving can be."
"While teen drivers often feel invincible, the reality is that texting and driving too often leads to terrible injuries and even death," said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, president of NAAG. "No text message is worth risking your life or the lives of others. Texting while driving should be as socially unacceptable as driving without a seat belt."