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Wireless Leaders Come Together to Curb Texting and Driving - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Wireless Leaders Come Together to Curb Texting and Driving

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Four of the country's wireless leaders are coming together for a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to put an end to texting and driving. The effort focuses on the summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day, also known as the 100 deadliest days on the roads for teen drivers.

Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile are uniting under AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign. This is the first time the four wireless competitors are working together to support the effort to curb texting and driving. The campaign will officially kick off Monday, May 20 and run until September.

Richard Grevious, an AT&T assistant manager at the Charlottesville store, said, "It really shows the nation even though we are very competitive, for such a great cause, we can really come together when it does come to that."

The phone companies and police agree - no matter how important a text message is, it can wait if you're behind the wheel.

"It's becoming a bigger thing now for people to text and drive and a lot more accidents are being caused from it," said Grevious.

Charlottesville police say people will soon see more severe penalties for checking their phones while driving.

"You need to pull over off the side of the roadway if you're going to be utilizing  either type of electronic communications - whether it be by email or by texting so that would net you for the first offense of $125 fine.  Second offense would net you at $250 fine," said Lt. Ronnie Roberts of the Charlottesville Police Department. 

The violation of using a handheld device while driving will also be considered a primary offense.  The new laws will go into effect on July 1. 

Roberts said, "Right now you have a little bit of a buffer time to get yourself changing or modifying your driving behavior and that is to put down those electronic devices while you're on the road."

According to a 2009 study, texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

"They exhibit the same symptoms of a person that's driving impaired.  It increases our call volume to the 911 center, to the dispatchers - an impact there," said Roberts.  

Texting while driving is a simple action that can have serious consequences.

"When you do this with an electronic device, you endanger not only your life, but you also endanger the other people that are on the road with you," said Roberts.

There are also a number of phone apps that prevent people from texting while driving. AT&T's DriveMode app sends messages to anyone that texts you while you're driving to let them you can't answer.

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