It happens at least once a day. I’m sitting at a traffic light, idling for more than a minute, and temptation hits.

One little swipe, just this one time, can’t hurt.

I have a physical compulsion to reach for my phone anytime I have 10 seconds to spare, much less a whole minute at a red light. Sometimes that minute can even feel like a waste of my time.

Why am I idling here when there are emails to answer and social posts to check?

Luckily, when temptation hits, the voice of my better angels comes through. I leave my phone safely where it is. What do those angels sound like? My 2 daughters.

Setting a good example for my girls keeps me on the path of good behavior. I want them to learn to make good decisions and have self-discipline. I want them to look beyond their own needs, and see the greater world beyond themselves and how their actions affect everyone.

When I took the IT CAN WAIT® pledge a few years ago, it was more than just participating in a company-sponsored activity. I pledged to my colleagues, my friends, my family and myself to not engage in the risky behavior of distracted driving.

Every car on the road carries someone else’s children, grandparents or loved ones. And the actions we take behind the wheel can have deathly repercussions.

I take that pledge seriously, and I’m not the only one. Since we first launched this campaign, we’ve achieved more than 10 million pledges to not drive distracted.

According to findings from new It Can Wait research1, almost half of people who pledged said they now don’t use their smartphones while driving.

Those who share their promise or pledge with others are even more likely to stop, and more likely to speak up to others. Of those who shared their promise or pledge with others:

  • 4-in-10 asked a friend or family member to not use their smartphone while driving.
  • Nearly one-third asked a driver to not use their smartphone while driving when riding as a passenger.
  • Nearly 4-in-10 asked a passenger to operate their smartphone while they are driving.

In the 6 years since AT&T launched It Can Wait, the campaign:

  • Helped grow awareness of the dangers of smartphone distracted driving to more than 90% of audiences surveyed.
  • Inspired more than 5 million downloads of the free AT&T DriveMode® app, now available in Spanish and open to all carriers.
  • Worked with state departments of transportation on research that suggests a correlation between It Can Wait campaign activities and a reduction in crashes.
  • Collaborated with AT&T data scientists on research that shows how statewide anti-texting laws impact the rate of texting while driving.

It’s because of grassroots efforts by more than 2,500 organizations and tens of thousands of individual advocates that so many people have pledged — and meant it.

But we have more work to do until everyone behind the wheel listens to the voices of their better angels.

We need to come together and pledge to never put the lives of our loved ones – or anyone’s loved ones – at risk by using our smartphones while driving.

By the end of 2016, we strive to reach 16 million pledges.

That’s 16 in ‘16.

We’re working with our employees and grassroots organizations on a pledge competition throughout October. We’ll need that commitment to make smartphone-use while driving an issue of the past.

1 New AT&T research is from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,096 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken from August 9-10, 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+). Respondents were asked how often they use their smartphone while driving. Those who did not drive, own a smartphone, or preferred not to answer the question have been excluded from this analysis.

Beth Shiroishi - VP, Global CSR Strategy & Insights at AT&T

Beth Shiroishi
Beth Shiroishi VP, Global CSR Strategy & Insights at AT&T