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Xzavier Davis-Bilbo with his mom, Valetta.

Family & Travel

When texting turns deadly

You are 23 times more likely to crash if you are texting and driving.1 That's why this summer, the nation’s wireless leaders are joining AT&T in its fight against it through the It Can Wait campaign.

"Was the text that important?” It’s a simple question asked by the mother of Xzavier Davis-Bilbo. In 2010, five-year-old Xzavier was struck by a car while trying to cross a street. The young woman behind the wheel had been texting while driving. He was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Crossing a street. Driving a car. Sending a text. These everyday actions are often second nature to us, so much so that we can be too comfortable taking our eyes off the road to send a “LOL” or a “C u l8ter” from the driver’s seat. The statistics are staggering:

    * Texting while driving increases your chances of being in a car crash by 23 times.
    * The National Safety Council estimates that over 100,000 accidents a year involve someone who is texting.
    * 49% of adult commuters admit to this reckless behavior as do 43% of teens.2

While we know age isn’t always a factor, in the weeks ahead, too many teen drivers are likely to end up with one eye on the road. The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when teens are on the road more often, can be deadly. Frequently called the 100 Deadliest Days, this period coincides with a spike in traffic-related deaths among young adults. To raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving, AT&T launched the It Can Wait campaign in March, 2010. Later that year, the network released an award-winning documentary titled The Last Text, which explored how drivers who text can irrevocably change the lives of others.

Reggie Shaw is one of those drivers. Nearly seven years ago, on a damp morning in September, Shaw was exchanging texts with his girlfriend and crossed the dividing line on a highway in northern Utah. He created a ripple effect, causing two scientists commuting to work in a sedan to crash into a pickup truck hauling two tons of horse equipment. The two men died instantly. Shaw eventually plead guilty to two counts of negligent homicide. Taking full responsibility for his actions, he is an advocate who speaks out on behalf of victims and in favor of strengthening laws against drivers who text.

Drawing increased attention to this deadly phenomenon is crucial, as recent AT&T surveys indicate the problem is only getting worse: 75 percent of teens now describe texting and driving as “common” among their friends, while over the last three years its occurrence among adults has climbed 10 percent.3 This year, new collaborations with Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and over 200 other organizations including retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy and RadioShack, are expanding the reach of It Can Wait. “Awareness of the dangers of texting and driving has increased, but people are still doing it,” says AT&T Chairman & CEO Randall Stephenson. “With this expanded effort, we hope to change behavior.”

On TV, radio, online and through social media, communities around the country are hearing first-hand the powerful stories of people like Xzavier Davis-Bilbo. Drivers struggling with the consequences of their own choice to text and drive are speaking out too. In this video, one such driver recounts the moment he realized his well-meaning text was a terrible mistake.

See for yourself. Try the It Can Wait Simulator to witness how texting while driving impairs your ability behind the wheel.

Take the pledge to never text and drive. Join the more than 1.5 million people that are honoring their promise to set aside their phone and stay focused on the road by visiting itcanwait.com on your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Already took the pledge? Learn about two great apps that can help you keep that important promise: the AT&T DriveMode™ app, dreamed up by AT&T customer care specialist Shavonne Jones, and Rode Dog, the brainchild of 11-year-old Victoria Walker.

1Virginia Tech Institute Research

2AT&T Commuter Survey conduced by ResearchNow

3AT&T Wireless Survey