At the end of the summer of 2016, we reached a remarkable milestone – 10 million pledges to not drive distracted. The It Can Wait campaign and the 10 million pledge count represent the dedication of so many to keep our roads safe. Today, seven-in-ten people admit to smartphone activity behind the wheel.
I'm thrilled to be able to share that the winning organization, having raised nearly 800 pledges, is from my home state of Tennessee -- the Tennessee Future Farmers of America.
Facts like those are why we continue to set our sights higher. After hitting the 10 million pledge mark, we set the ambitious goal of reaching 16 million pledges to not drive distracted by the end of 2016.
We kicked off the It Can Wait 16 in ‘16 Pledge Contest in October, asking schools, non-profits and other organizations to create a team, then generate as many pledges as possible for that team, via text. The response was inspiring -- nearly one thousand teams from across the country stepped up to voice their support for this critically important cause.
I'm thrilled to be able to share that the winning organization, having raised nearly 800 pledges, is from my home state of Tennessee -- the Tennessee Future Farmers of America. Tennessee FFA is guided by the goal of making a positive difference in the lives of students, by developing their potential for premiere leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. There are over 14,000 Tennessee FFA members ranging from 11-21 years of age, and distracted driving can have a serious effect on these young men and women. By taking the pledge to not drive distracted, these members become leaders for positive change in their friend group and community. The Tennessee FFA Foundation, Inc. wants its members to be safe, engaged and cognizant of the impact their actions have on those around them.
Because Tennessee FFA is so ingrained in the student community of the state, one of their strongest messages is one of safe driving. “Asking our Tennessee Future Farmers of America members to take the pledge to not engage in distracted driving teaches responsibility for their actions and, more than that, teaches them that choosing wisely can have a positive influence on those around them,” said Ben L. Byler, Ed.D., Chairman, Tennessee FFA Foundation, Inc. “Encouraging our members to practice the motto ‘It Can Wait’ can impact their friends and members of their communities to follow their lead.”
As the contest winners, the Tennessee FFA will receive the It Can Wait Simulator during their March 2017 State FFA Convention in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The It Can Wait Simulator is a virtual reality experience that gives participants a first-hand look at the dangers of distracted driving.
Support from organizations like Tennessee FFA continues to help empower those in their communities to take the pledge to end distracted driving. Together, we can make distracted driving history.