No text is worth losing a loved one.
No text is worth dying over.
No text is worth permanent brain damage.
A series of public service announcements currently being broadcast by AT&T dramatically illustrates the dangers of texting and driving. The spots are a little hard to watch, but they should make everyone who sees them put down their phones and pay attention to the road.
A mother and father recall their vivacious daughter, Mariah. The mother holds up a card saying “Where u at” and explains it was the text message Mariah was reading when she drove her car into oncoming traffic. A young man, who has suffered a traumatic brain injury, is shown struggling through a therapy session, while speaking in a halting voice. His card says “Where r.” It’s the text message, he says, that caused the accident that “changed my life forever.”
Beside a photo of their son in his military uniform, a mother holds a card reading “Yeah T.” It was the message he was typing when he drove off the road, crashed and died of a massive skull fracture. A young woman talks about her little sister, Ashley, who giggled so hard that “she would even snort sometimes.” Ashley was reading her sister’s one-word text, “Yeah,” just before she flipped her car and was killed on impact.
It’s hard to imagine the pain of the people on the screen and the courage it took to share these stories in such a public way, but their messages have a powerful impact.
Many states, including Kansas, have passed bans on sending text messages while driving. The laws are well-intentioned but even the best of them are hard to enforce. The threat of fines or other legal ramifications may cause some drivers to change their texting behavior, but, for most, the threat of death or serious injury is a much stronger deterrent.
That danger becomes a stark reality through the stories in AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign. The message is aimed specifically at teens, but it’s valid for drivers of all ages who choose to send and read text messages or even dial and talk on the phone when they are driving. It’s an especially strong message in Lawrence as so many university students head back to town. You may think it’s safe to talk or text, but so did the victims portrayed in these television spots. It should be a sobering thought.