AT&T recruits Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile to curb texting while driving

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AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is welcoming rival nationwide operators Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) to the ranks of its 'It Can Wait' campaign to end texting while driving. More than 200 other organizations are also throwing their weight behind the It Can Wait effort, AT&T said.

AT&T launched the ItCanWait.com site in 2012, later introducing features including an online simulator depicting the dangers of distracted driving. The campaign culminated last Sept. 19 with AT&T's No Text on Board Pledge Day event, supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Communications Commission and more than 140 other organizations.

AT&T said the 2013 It Can Wait initiative will kick off May 20 and includes a new national advertising campaign, a nationwide texting-while-driving simulator tour, in-store marketing across tens of thousands of retail locations and additional outreach efforts, with a special focus on the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the most dangerous period for teen drivers according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The 2013 campaign will climax this Sept. 19 with special events designed to elevate awareness of the It Can Wait movement.

In conjunction with It Can Wait, smartphone manufacturers Pantech, HTC and Samsung will preload the AT&T DriveMode safety app on Android devices sold to AT&T subscribers. DriveMode automatically replies to incoming texts, notifying the sender that the message recipient is driving and unable to respond. The app automatically turns on when the user is in a vehicle moving at speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour, and it automatically shuts off once the vehicle falls to speeds below 25 miles per hour for five minutes.

AT&T added that Clear Channel Media and Entertainment will share the It Can Wait message across hundreds of U.S. radio stations, while Goodyear will incorporate the messaging into high-resolution aerial signs on its blimps as they circle sporting events. Civic and safety groups are launching local It Can Wait efforts as well.

Forty-nine percent of commuters admit to texting while driving, including 43 percent of all teens, AT&T said. "Texting while driving is a deadly habit that makes you 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash," said AT&T Chairman & CEO Randall Stephenson. "Awareness of the dangers of texting and driving has increased, but people are still doing it. With this expanded effort, we hope to change behavior."

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