Texting and Driving ... It Can Wait: Five Million Pledges, More than a Million Apps Downloaded, and the launch of #X

By Charlene Lake, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer
Jul 28, 2014 1:05 PM ET

Texting & Driving … It Can Wait: Five Million Pledges, More than a Million Apps…

The scope and impact of the Texting & Driving … It Can Wait® movement has drawn comparisons to successful campaigns to change behaviors around smoking, wearing seatbelts and drunk driving.  That’s encouraging, because those efforts are, in many ways, models of the success we’re trying to achieve.

But even as we apply key insights from those success stories to our efforts, we want It Can Wait to be different in one very important way. The success of the smoking, seatbelt and drunk-driving campaigns has been achieved over decades.  We’re working on a much shorter timeline.

In the past four years, we’ve made great strides.

  • We’ve gathered more than 2,500 organizations and tens of thousands of individuals to help champion the cause.
  • Together, we’ve helped raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving to 97 percent or higher for every audience we’ve polled.  
  • The It Can Wait pledge campaign has inspired more than five million personal commitments not to text and drive.
  • More than a million people have downloaded the free AT&T DriveMode® app that blocks messages when you’re driving.
  • And preliminary research on crash data from Texas, Florida and Illinois is showing a strong, positive correlation between It Can Wait campaign activities and a projected reduction in crashes!

But we see it on the road every day.  Some people are still texting and driving.  And that must change.  Fast.

The free DriveMode app is effective for Android and BlackBerry customers.  If you don’t know someone has texted you, you’re not tempted to respond.

But not everyone is going to use an app.  We know there’s no single solution to this problem. 

So in the next phase of our campaign, we’ll use some of the same social forces that compel people to text and drive, to get them to stop.

We’re introducing a social tool, “#X”, that fits naturally into texting conversations. It means “I’m checking out while I drive. Back soon.”

We’ll team with celebrities to help promote awareness and use. 

We hope #X will give teens and others a socially acceptable way to pause their texting conversations until they’ve arrived safely at their destinations.

But whether it’s the DriveMode app, #X, giving the phone to the passenger, or putting it in the console while driving, we’re encouraging everyone to find their own “DriveMode” – the way that they personally choose to avoid the moment of temptation to text and drive.

Here’s some ways you can avoid the urge to text and drive, and get involved in the movement to end this deadly epidemic: 

  • Use #X.  Just enter “#X” to end your text, email, and social conversations before you start your vehicle.  It’s a simple and effective way to eliminate a dangerous distraction.
  • Download the DriveMode app and learn more at www.att.com/drivemode.
  • Visit ItCanWait.com. Make a pledge with your loved one to never text and drive, and register to become a personal advocate in the movement.
  • Follow the movement.  Follow @ItCanWait on Twitter for all the latest news on the movement.
  • Find your own “DriveMode.” Create a routine that helps you avoid the temptation to text while driving. It could be #X, DriveMode or another app, hands-free technology, or even just turning your phone to silent – whatever works for you. 

Please share the It Can Wait message with your friends, family and loved ones. No text is worth their life!

This post originally appeared on the AT&T Consumer Blog on July 28, 2014.