Most of us probably know that texting while driving is dangerous and illegal in the State of Maine, but lots of people have been caught breaking this law lately. It’s tempting, right? One text is all it takes. One second you’re perfectly fine and the next, you’ve sideswiped the car crossing the road in front of you.
This has become more common over the years and some people are starting to recognize that, like the telecommunications corporation, AT&T. AT&T has come up with “It Can Wait”, their newest campaign to stop texting and driving. Basically, whenever you’re texting someone and getting ready to drive, but you don’t want to end the conversation, type #X. This means that you aren’t done with the chat, you’re putting it on pause. This campaign was created in 2009 by Cathy Coughlin, AT&T’s global marketing officer, but is just recently becoming more popular.
When asked if they had seen their parents text and drive within a week’s time, 15 out of 39 students answered “yes”. This means fifteen parents have been spotted illegally texting and driving with their children in the car. The Maine law states, “A person may not operate a motor vehicle while engaging in text message.” It also declares that, “A person who violates this section commits a traffic infraction for which a fine of not less than $250 may be adjudged.”
“A person who violates this section after previously having been adjudicated as violating this section within a 3-year period commits a traffic infraction for which a fine of not less than $500 dollars may be adjudged.”
“The fines are very high. It (the law) is publicized well and is an automatic ticket,” Windham Police Officer Jeff Smith, currently a school resource officer for Windham High School, said in a recent interview.
Officer Matthew Cyr, a community services officer from Windham Police Department, gave me his opinion on “It Can Wait.” He believes that the law on texting and driving still needs much enforcing and is not just a teenage thing.
“Adults and older siblings need to set examples,” Cyr proclaimed. “Texting and driving is just as bad as drinking and driving.”
“I have seen lots of incidents in Windham lately,” Smith admits. In 2013, over 3,000 crashes involving distracted driving were documented in the State of Maine. That same year, 12 deaths occurred, also because of distracted driving. Drivers who are texting are 23 more times likely to get in an accident than drivers who aren’t.
AT&T made an app to go along with the “It Can Wait” program called AT&T DriveMode. This app can be set up to automatically send a customized reply to all incoming text messages, emails, and wireless calls when the car reaches a speed of 25mph or more. If you go under 25mph for five minutes or more, the app will shut itself off and you can view missed messages and calls. The purpose of the app is to make the roads safer, which is why it will only let one music and or navigation app run at the same time as the app does. To download the app, go on Google Play or AT&T app center. If you do download the app, AT&T assumes you are pledging to “It Can Wait” and will no longer text and drive.
To find out more about #X and “It Can Wait”, visit http://www.itcanwait.com/all. You can also learn about celebrities who have pledged and learn how you can get involved in the campaign. Over 5,000,000 people have pledged.