Sheriff's Office, AT&T partner in Don't Text and Drive campaign

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with AT&T to bring awareness to and promote the Don’t Text and Drive campaign and AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign.

The purpose of the two campaigns is to educate the public, especially teens, on the dangers of texting and driving.

On Friday, Dec. 6, beginning at 9 a.m. representatives from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and AT&T will visit with Pine Bluff High School students in the gymnasium, 711 W. 11th Ave., where students will be able to pledge their support for the campaign and experience the dangerous effects of texting while driving by participating in AT&T’s texting while driving chair simulator.

Dec. 6 will be AT&T’s first visit to Arkansas with the simulator, where students will experience a 3-D driving simulation involving a “city” of about eight blocks and realistic texts that appear on the smart phone accompanying the chair. This re-creates the eyes-off-the-road and hand-off-the-wheel experience of texting while driving. The simulator comes fully staffed and events can last anywhere from three to six hours, with each student taking about one to three minutes behind the wheel.

During their visit to PBHS, the documentary “From One Second to the Next” will be shown to students as it is both a powerful reminder of the consequences of texting while driving as well as a way to occupy students while they wait to get behind the wheel. AT&T has found that students take the simulator much more seriously after viewing the documentary. The full version of the documentary is about 30 minutes.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. This was a 9 percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.

As of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the United States every month. Eleven percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashed were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.