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Opinion

September 13, 2012

Teach kids not to text and drive

OKLAHOMA CITY — Children are back in school in communities large and small all across Oklahoma. It’s an exciting, and often hectic, time of year. Parents are shuttling kids to band concerts and ball games, and running errands in between. Like their parents, students are rushing about too; rushing to class, to practice, to a part-time job.

We get busier and busier, and multitasking seems to be the only way to get it all done. While society may celebrate those among us who seem to effortlessly address multiple tasks simultaneously, there’s at least one place where a single-minded focus is not only best but a must, and that’s behind the wheel of an automobile.

Recognizing this, AT&T recently announced an “It Can Wait” pledge day set for Sept. 19 to bring awareness to this important public safety issue. The initiative comes complete with its own website, full of survey results and statistics that should make it easy for parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of texting and driving. There is also a place on that site where drivers of all ages can pledge not to text behind the wheel.

The company’s efforts are based on some startling statistics.

Research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be in an accident or near-accident. The National Safety Council says more than 100,000 crashes a year involve drivers who are texting.

Those statistics alone should be enough to convince you to put your phone away while driving, but what if I told you, mom and dad, that you are being watched?

According to a national teen driver survey commissioned by AT&T, 77 percent of teens have seen their parents text and drive. We tell our kids not to do it, but many parents don’t listen to their own advice. It’s the “do as I say and not as I do” method of parenting.

Maybe, instead, we should practice what we preach.

In that same AT&T survey, 62 percent of teens said reminders from their parents not to text and drive would be effective in getting them to stop the dangerous practice. If actions truly speak louder than words, how many kids would refrain from texting and driving if mom and dad resisted the urge too?

So, keep preaching, but start practicing too. Join with your kids in taking AT&T’s pledge by logging on to www.itcanwait.com. Talk about the statistics. Commit yourself to never text and drive.

Remember, your kids are watchin

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