The fight against distracted driving started with parents who had lost a teenager to the dangerous practice. Soon, the fight picked up steam, earning high profile supporters like talk show mega-host Oprah Winfrey, and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Now, a sign that anti-distracted driving campaigns have reached the mainstream, cell phone companies are beginning to warn of the dangers of texting, typing, and talking behind the wheel. This week, mobile service provider AT&T released an 11 minute video titled “The Last Text” in order to show the impact of distracted driving from the point of view of those who have lost friends and family members.
“Our goal is to help make texting while driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving,” said AT&T senior vice president Gail Torreano. “We want this to be in every school in the country and for teenagers to know a text message is not worth a life.” The video was released immediately before New Years Eve, a deliberate attempt to say that distracted driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.
To me, one of the most touching stories in “The Last Text” comes from Patrick Sims, who struck and killed another driver – Jim Price – while typing the simple text message “LOL.” “People associate drinking and driving as a dangerous thing. Your judgment is impaired, your vision is impaired,” says Sims. “But if you look at texting and driving, your vision is not even there. You’re not even looking at the road.” Sims is right: would you ever consider driving down the road with your eyes closed for five or six seconds? Clearly not.
Other major cell phone companies have joined AT&T to call attention to the dangers of distracted driving. Verizon, for example, collaborated with AT&T for last year’s “Txting & Driving… It Can Wait” campaign. And more recently, LG has hired “Glee” star Jane Lynch to host a series of cell phone safety videos aimed at teenagers. The newest focused on how parents could urge their teenagers not to text and drive.
The power of AT&T’s newest video is that, like LaHood’s “Faces of Distracted Driving” video series, it relies on people who have felt the real impact of distracted driving to tell the story. Take a look at the AT&T video below, and remember to put down the cell phone while driving.