New Jersey Attorney General Tells Teens, ‘Stop Texting and Driving!’
It's "No Texting While Driving Day" in New Jersey and State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa kicked off the day with an assembly at Clearview Regional High School where he talked to 800 students about the dangers of distracted driving.
Chiesa was joined by AT&T Mid-Atlantic President Mike Schweder, whose company has made a nationwide push to end texting and driving and Angela Donato, whose sister, Toni Donato-Bolis, and her unborn nephew, were killed in a crash by a distracted driver.
"Research shows that sending just one text while driving can make you as dangerous as a drunk driver," said Chiesa. "The cognitive impairment is the same. We know it's wrong and irresponsible to drive drunk and there are severe legal and personal consequences that accompany a drunk driving arrest. There is a stigma attached to drunk driving."
"Over the past several decades we as a society have learned to view drunk driving differently. This is due to law enforcement initiatives and education, which have rightfully cast drunk drivers as a menace to society. Society's contempt for a texting driver hasn't yet materialized. But it should, given the similar dangers and outcomes between the two," said Chiesa.
Schweder urged the assembled students to make a lifetime commitment never to text and drive again. "We believe the tragedies caused by texting and driving have reached epidemic proportions. More than 100,000 crashes a year involve drivers who are texting, causing life-changing injuries and deaths," he said.
Those accidents and deaths are unacceptable and totally avoidable. That's why AT&T is committed to putting an end to texting and driving and why our CEO has called for September 19 to be a national day of no texting while driving," said Schweder. "I urge you to reach out to all your parents, friends, family and acquaintances. It's up to each one of us. We must stand up, sign the pledge, set an example and save lives."
Donato's sister was nine-months pregnant with her unborn son RJ when she was killed in June 2011 in a motor vehicle accident caused by a driver using a cell phone. Since then, Angela has worked as a safety advocate and established the Toni Donato-Bolis and Baby RJ Foundation to educate people about distracted driving.
"You have to spread the word and make the change. It takes one second to change a life and will take a lifetime to recover, just ask anyone in my family," she said.