It Can Wait® Joins New York Distracted Driving Summit

It Can Wait® Joins New York Distracted Driving Summit

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 12:35pm


By Marissa Shorenstein, President, AT&T New York

You’ve likely heard it before: Texting and other distractions like emailing, taking “selfies” and updating your Facebook status behind the wheel kills. However, despite widespread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, the epidemic persists. This is why AT&T,, Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORCs) and Westchester Medical Center convened experts in transportation, technology, media and law enforcement last week at the New York Distracted Driving Summit.

The conference featured distinguished speakers, including Karen Rae, Deputy Secretary for Transportation, New York; video remarks by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx; Thomas Louizou, Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Transportation – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Ben Lieberman of DORCs; and Jennifer Smith of, who has advocated tirelessly against distracted driving. Jennifer has been involved in recent segments on the Today Show and the Katie Show. Her work to bring this summit to life, in particular, is emblematic of her deep passion for this issue and for saving lives.

I also had the honor of speaking at the event and saw my own colleagues talk about the work AT&T is doing on the It Can Wait campaign. The event was a strong reminder of the important, but simple message that no text is worth a life.

The It Can Wait movement has had an impact on lives around the country. In my state of New York, I have seen first-hand that teens and adults have changed their behavior as a result of learning about the dangers of texting behind the wheel.

My team and I have visited communities around the state and have worked to address this issue with not only young drivers, but also their parents, who are sometimes even more likely to text behind the wheel than their kids. We have also taken an interest in talking to soon-to-be drivers, in attempts to increase their understanding of the dangers before they start driving. It is our hope that this particular effort will lead to even safer roads in the future.

Beyond AT&T’s work, I have also been impressed by New York’s leadership on this issue. Local and state law enforcement personnel have made distracted driving a priority not only from an enforcement perspective, but an educational one as well. In fact, Governor Cuomo increased penalties for this dangerous behavior and introduced “texting zones” on state highways last year to encourage drivers to pull over if they must send a text. Both of these measures, along with the numerous educational initiatives around the state, have been instrumental in creating a social stigma against texting and driving.

We’ve come a long way since AT&T launched the It Can Wait campaign in 2009, but we know there’s still a lot of work left to do. Last week’s summit demonstrated that everyone has a part to play in making texting-while-driving a problem of the past. I am proud of my company, my state and all other organizations and people who made the New York Distracted Driving Summit a success.  I look forward to continuing working with advocates across the country to spread the It Can Wait message.