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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
David Paulson, 410-576-6357
dpaulson@oag.state.md.us

AG Gansler Joins Campaign Against Dangers of Distracted Driving
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Ad Council, State Attorneys General, NASCAR's Kasey Kahne Team Up for Inaugural Stop the Texts Day


Baltimore, MD (May 1, 2012) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today highlighted the risks associated with distracted driving among young adults as part of the inaugural "Stop the Texts Day" nationwide initiative that aims to curb texting while driving.

"Far too many young drivers are needlessly hurt or killed on Maryland roads because of distracted driving," said Attorney General Gansler. "Although we have relatively new state laws that crack down on cell phone use while driving, we still see the need to push and practice safe driving habits for the benefit of all drivers, especially our young."

Sixty percent of young adult drivers (ages 16-24) said they have texted while driving, according to a national survey released Tuesday by the Ad Council, which organized the "Stop the Texts Day" campaign. New public service advertisements unveiled today to coincide with the start of National Youth Traffic Safety Month feature NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne telling teens that they should keep their full focus on the road and leave the risky driving to the professionals.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a sponsor of Stop the Texts Day, reports that distracted driving is the No. 1 killer of American teens. In 2010, more than 3,000 people were killed and an additional 416,000 were injured due to distracted driving, which includes texting while driving.

The goal of Stop the Texts Day is to extend the message of the "Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks." texting and driving prevention PSA campaign via social media in an effort to educate young drivers about the risks of texting while driving. Friends and parents of young adult drivers, and other safe driving advocates, are invited to share status updates from the campaign's Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the day on why texting while driving is such a risky behavior. Additionally, supporters can write an open letter to young adults imploring them to not text while driving on the campaign's Tumblr page. A complete toolkit for Stop the Texts Day is also available to provide additional ways the public can participate.

The PSAs direct audiences to stoptextsstopwrecks.org, a 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 Ad Council's national survey released today also found that 44 percent of young adult drivers say that friends are the most influential source to encourage them to curb their texting and driving habits, followed by their parents (33 percent). 88 percent of texting drivers said a law against the behavior would encourage them to completely stop or be less likely to text while driving. Additionally, 96 percent of young adult drivers said large fines, a suspended license and/or jail time, higher insurance rates and other financial and legal consequences would encourage them not to text while driving.

Maryland law considers texting while driving a secondary offense, which means law enforcement officers can only cite a driver for distracted driving if they are pulled over for a primary offense, such as speeding.

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 $98.2 million in donated media support. For more than 25 years, the Ad Council and NHTSA have worked together on consumer safety PSA campaigns.

The online survey, commissioned by the Ad Council, was conducted in partnership with ORC International's Online CARAVAN Youth Omnibus. Research was conducted nationwide from April 3 to 6, 2012. The sample consisted of 862 teens and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24. All respondents were required to have a valid driver's license, junior license or learner's permit.

   

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