Kilmartin, Lewis talk to East Providence High students about dangers of texting and driving

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EAST PROVIDENCE — Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) brought attention to the dangers of texting and driving with an awareness tour that visited East Providence High School Monday morning, Dec. 17.

Joined by RIDOT Director Michael Lewis, Regional Vice President for AT&T in Rhode David Mancuso, East Providence Police Chief Joseph Taveras, Sen. David Bates, Rep. Katherine Kazarian, Rep.-elect Gregg Amore Rhode Island State Police Lt. Eric LaRiviere and school officials, the group brought AT&T’s powerful “Txtng & Drivng…It Can Wait”campaign to East Providence High School.

After a short speaking program, students, teachers and guests viewed an AT&T documentary featuring families impacted by texting and driving accidents, and were then asked to sign a pledge to not text and drive.  Approximately 400 students at the high school took the pledge.

“We are spreading the message to young drivers across Rhode Island: No text message is so important that it’s worth taking your attention off the road and risking lives in the process,” said Attorney General Kilmartin, who sponsored the state’s landmark legislation in 2009 banning texting while driving in Rhode Island.

“Whether turning the phone off, taking a pledge, or just making it a personal practice, the next time you think about sending or answering a text while operating a vehicle please remember – It Can Wait," he added.

Throughout the school year, AG Kilmartin and RIDOT will bring the public awareness campaign to area high schools. Interested parties are encouraged to follow the lead of the East Providence High School students and go to www.itcanwait.com and take a no-texting-and-driving pledge, and then share their promise with others via Twitter (#itcanwait) and Facebook.

The next stop on the don’t text and drive awareness tour is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 9, at St. Andrews School in Barrington.  Schools who are interested in participating should contact the Office of Attorney General at 401-274-4400 ext 2334.

A recent AT&T survey found that 97 percent of teens say they know that texting is dangerous.

The survey also found:

  • 75 percent of teens surveyed say that texting while driving is “common” among their friends;
  • Almost all teens (89 percent) expect a reply to a text or email within five minutes or less;
  • And 77 percent of teens report seeing their parents text while driving.

Rhode Island State Police Colonel and Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety Steven G. O’Donnell added, "Distracted Drivers are a serious problem on our roadways.  As the enforcement arm of this campaign, we are pleased to join Attorney General Kilmartin, DOT and educators to get the message out to our most vulnerable population, DON'T TEXT and DRIVE!"

“Young drivers need to learn that the consequences to texting and driving can be deadly,” said RIDOT Director Lewis. “As we visit area high schools, we will be armed with the same safety message:  Don’t text and drive. It Can Wait.”

AT&T first began its It Can Wait campaign discouraging texting and driving in 2009. Its partnership with the AG Kilmartin and RIDOT is just the latest way AT&T is continuing to spread the word about the dangers of texting and driving as part of the “It Can Wait” campaign in Rhode Island and across the country.

“We're thrilled to be partnering with Attorney General Kilmartin and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to raise awareness of the dangers of texting and driving,” said Patricia Jacobs, President of AT&T in New England.  “We hope that the result of our efforts will be that thousands of teen drivers – and their parents – across Rhode Island will pledge to never text and drive.”

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