Sixty percent of young adult drivers (16-24) said they have texted while driving, according to a national survey released by the Ad Council. To educate young adult drivers about the dangers of texting while driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the State Attorneys General and Consumer Protection Agencies, 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.
"Distracted driving is a deadly practice that can have devastating consequences on our nation's roadways—that's why we are encouraging young drivers to stay focused and never text behind the wheel," said Administrator David Strickland, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Working closely with our partners we hope to build public awareness of this important safety issue and educate young drivers about the dangers of texting while driving."
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.
"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 Kasey Kahne®, NASCAR driver.
Created p ro 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 and serve as a reminder to leave the risky driving to the professionals. 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.
"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 even more socially unacceptable than driving without a seat belt."
The Ad Council's national survey released today also found that forty-four percent of young adult drivers (16 – 24) say that friends are the most influential source to encourage them to curb their texting and driving habits, followed by their parents (thirty-three percent). Most notably, eighty-eight 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, ninety-six percent of young adult drivers said large fines, a suspended license and/or jail time, higher insurance rates, and other financial and legal consequences would encourage them not to text while driving.
"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 Texts Day to help us end the dangerous act of texting and driving."
"Partnering with the Ad Council gave us the unique ability to elevate the conversation about texting and driving on a national scale," said Bill Hagelstein, president and CEO of RPA and Ad Council board member. "We're proud that our work has the opportunity to sway public opinion and be an agent for change and education."
Since 2006, the Ad Council has partnered with the State Attorneys General to address reckless driving among teens. To date, the campaign has received more than $98.2 million in donated media support. For more than twenty-five years, the Ad Council and NHTSA have worked together on consumer safety PSA campaigns. Per the Ad Council's model, all of the new PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.
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.
The Ad Council