Press Release

Attorney General Burns Joins National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the State Attorneys General, and the Ad Council to Unveil a New Public Service Advertising Campaign to Urge Young Adult Drivers to 'Stop the Texts' and 'Stop the Wrecks'

New National Survey Shows Eighty-Two Percent of Young Adults Say They Have Read a Standard Text Message While Driving

October 27, 2011

Anchorage, Alaska – Eighty-two percent of young adult drivers (16-24) have read a standard text message while driving, according to a national survey conducted by the Ad Council. In an effort to educate young drivers about the dangers of texting while driving, Attorney General John J. Burns, the State Attorneys General and Consumer Protection agencies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),and the Ad Council are launching a new public service advertising campaign (PSA) nationwide. The campaign includes TV, radio, outdoor, and digital PSAs. Additionally, to extend the campaign messages online, new Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube social media channels go live today.

NHTSA reports that distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens.  Sixteen percent of all drivers younger than twenty involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) reports that a texting driver is twenty-three times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver.

“Our youth are vital to Alaska’s future,” said Attorney General Burns, “it is important that we take every step we can to inform them of the dangers involved in texting while driving so we can reduce needless tragedies.”

"Distracted driving is dangerous, and tragically, teen drivers are the most at risk of being involved in a fatal distracted driving crash," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We hope our new ad campaign will send a strong message to teens that putting away cell phones and other distractions while you're driving is not just commonsense safe behavior, it can save your life."

“Every second matters when you’re behind the wheel,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna, 2012 President of the National Association of Attorneys General.  “The nation’s attorneys general join the Ad Council, consumer protection agencies and NHTSA in reminding young drivers to stop texts and stop wrecks. No text, Tweet or Facebook update is worth your life.”

The new television, radio, outdoor, and digital PSAs were created pro bono by New York advertising agency The Concept Farm. The PSAs communicate to teens and adults that when you text and drive, you are not multitasking, but essentially driving blind.  By taking your eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, you are making the road less safe for you, your passengers, and other drivers.  All of the PSAs direct audiences to stoptextsstopwrecks.org, a new campaign website where teens and young adults can find facts about the impact of texting while driving and tips for how to curb the behavior. The website also has an area where individuals can post, and share on Facebook, what they are doing to stop texting and driving.

“For over twenty-five years we have been working with NHTSA to successfully address drunk driving prevention. The term ‘designated driver’ is now a part of the American vocabulary, but even more importantly sixty-seven percent of all adults have tried to stop someone from drinking and driving,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “Research has shown that using a cell phone delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. Through our Texting and Driving Prevention campaign we are working towards eradicating the mindset among young adults that texting and driving is a safe activity.”      

The Ad Council’s national survey released today also found that seventy-five percent of young adult drivers have sent a standard text message while driving; forty-nine percent have done it multiple times. Half of respondents say that during the past month, they have been a passenger when a friend was texting while driving.  

“The Concept Farm is honored to work with the Ad Council and its sponsors on the anti-texting and driving initiative,” says Ray Mendez, Partner and Integration Director at The Concept Farm. “The dangers and consequences of texting and driving are very real and addressing them aggressively is long overdue. Texting and driving has become an epidemic in this country, and we’re passionate about doing our part to change behavior. Saving lives … that’s our goal.”

A social media program kicking off this week will help drive the point home on social networking sites and blogs nationwide. Non-profit partners such as NOYS (National Organizations for Youth Safety) and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) will help spread the message by reaching out to their members across the country.

Since 2006, the Ad Council has partnered with the State Attorneys General to address reckless driving among teens. To date the campaign has received more than $88.7 million in donated media support.  For more than twenty-five years, the Ad Council and NHTSA have worked together on consumer safety PSA campaigns. Per the Ad Council’s model, all of the new PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media.

The online survey, commissioned by the Ad Council, was conducted in partnership with C + R Research. Research was conducted nationwide from September 15 to 23, 2011. The sample consisted of 1,004 teens and young adults between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four.  All respondents were required to hold a U.S. driver’s license, drive at least once per week, and have a mobile phone.

NHTSA/DOT

For more than four decades, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  has served as the key federal agency charged with improving safety on our nation’s roadways. As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, NHTSA is working to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries by promoting the use of safety belts and child safety seats; helping states and local communities address the threat of drunk drivers; regulating safety standards and investigating safety defects in motor vehicles; establishing and enforcing fuel economy standards; conducting research on driver behavior and traffic safety; and providing consumer information on issues ranging from child passenger safety to impaired driving.  For more information visit www.nhtsa.gov.

The Advertising Council

The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies. The Ad Council addresses issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.

The Concept Farm

Founded in 1999 at the start of the digital age, the Concept Farm is a collective of marketing problem solvers that focus on organic, dramatic, meaningful brand transformation. Based in New York, the agency offers integrated creative services from strategic development to full-up digital, broadcast and print production. They’ve successfully collaborated with enlightened clients including BNY Mellon, Disney, ESPN, BMW, Estee Lauder, Nielsen, The United Nations and Windstream Communications.

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CONTACT:

John Parsi
Alaska Department of Law Special Assistant
907-269-5557
John.Parsi@alask.gov

Doug Walsh
State Attorneys General
206-464-6388
dougw@atg.wa.gov

Lisa Cullen
The Ad Council
202-331-5052
lcullen@adcoucil.org

Karen Aldana
NHTSA  
202-366-9550
Public.affairs@dot.gov

Gregg Wasiak
The Concept Farm
212.463.9939

gregg@conceptfarm.com

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