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Campaign promotes Stop the Texts Day

Statement as issued Tuesday:

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is promoting the first-ever nationwide Stop the Texts Day to highlight the dangers of texting while driving – even though Indiana’s law now bans the practice.

About 60 percent of young adult drivers ages 16 to 24 still say they have texted while behind the wheel, according to a national survey released today by the Ad Council.

Zoeller joined other state attorneys general, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), consumer protection agencies and the Ad Council today to promote Stop the Texts Day.

“Distracted driving is dangerous no matter what level of experience you have behind the wheel,” Zoeller said. “Many motorists drive distracted despite Indiana’s texting and emailing while driving ban. Stop the Texts Day gives us an opportunity to share with our friends and family the need to stop the texts and save lives.”

According to the NHTSA, 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 group also listed distracted driving as the number one killer of American teenagers.

NASCAR Driver Kasey Kahne is featured in new public service announcements to encourage young adults to leave risky driving to the professionals. The announcements are being unveiled today to coincide with Stop the Texts Day and the start of National Youth Traffic Safety Month.

“I am glad that I was able to be a part of this project. 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,” said NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.

Created pro bono by advertising agency RPA, the television, radio and digital PSAs remind young adult drivers that it is dangerous to do anything that takes your attention away from the road. The PSAs direct audiences to stoptextsstopwrecks.org, a website where teens and young adults can find facts about the impact of texting while driving and tips for how to curb the behavior.

“Our latest research shows that young adult drivers continue to text and drive even with the knowledge that the act can seriously injure or kill others or themselves,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “With the help of NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne, we are sending a wake-up call to young adult drivers that if you take your eyes off the road to read or respond to text messages there can be unfortunate consequences. We would encourage everyone to participate in Stop the Text Day to help us end the dangerous act of texting and driving.”

Zoeller worked with legislators and major telecommunications provider AT&T last year to ban texting while driving in Indiana.

“Texting while driving is foolhardy at best and lethal at worst,” said AT&T Indiana President George S. Fleetwood. “While AT&T is thrilled to have so many consumers using our mobile devices, we believe that when it comes to texting and driving, it can wait.”

The goal of Stop the Texts Day is to extend the message of a texting and driving prevention PSA campaign called “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks.” 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. A complete toolkit for Stop the Texts Day is also available to provide additional ways the public can participate.

The Ad Council’s national survey released today also found that 44 percent of young adult drivers ages 16 to 24 said that friends are the most influential source to encourage them to curb their texting and driving habits, followed by their parents at 33 percent.

The online survey, commissioned by the Ad Council, was conducted in partnership with ORC International’s Online CARAVAN® Youth Omnibus. Research was conducted nationwide from April 3 to 6, 2012. The sample consisted of 862 teens and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24. All respondents were required to have a valid driver’s license, junior license or learner’s permit.

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