While texting drivers of any age can create a hazard on the roads, the campaign targets young, inexperienced motorists who also are generally the most prolific users of wireless text messaging.
The campaign will kick off with a series of presentations by FHP officers at high school driver’s education classes across the state. The first will be September 4 at Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines.
“Driving and texting is clearly unsafe and one of the most important lessons we can teach to young drivers as they hit the roads to start a new school year,” said Captain Mark Welch, FHP’s chief of public affairs.
The “Danger Thumbs” Florida initiative will complement a more general “Don’t Text and Drive” public service campaign by Verizon Wireless that includes billboards, public service announcements (PSAs), advertising, brochures and other traditional communications aimed at all drivers.
In addition to school visits, “Danger Thumbs” will present safety messages in a variety of web-based and social media channels particularly popular with young and learning drivers. Social media “walls,” quizzes, surveys, fan pages, contests and more will promote safe driving and highlight the great danger of texting while behind the wheel.
“We’re not picking on young people, but we definitely know how much they love to text,” said Pam Tope, Florida region president of Verizon Wireless. “If we can promote safe habits while these drivers are young, it will be a good thing for all Floridians on our roads for many years to come.”
The company has a long history of leadership in promoting safe driving while using wireless phones. In the first year (2000) Verizon Wireless formed, the company broke from the rest of the wireless industry by supporting legislation that required people who talked while driving to use hands-free devices. Shortly after, the company teamed with the FHP in Florida to distribute 20,000 free hands-free headsets (worth $200,000) to Florida motorists in a “Drive Responsibly, Call With Care” campaign.
In addition to the new “Danger Thumbs” campaign with the FHP, Verizon Wireless today supports legal bans on texting while driving, and prohibits Verizon Wireless employees from texting while on the job or in a company vehicle.
“The Florida Highway Patrol is one of the top law enforcement agencies in the nation, and is the authority when it comes to highway safety in the state,” Tope said. “As the nation’s largest wireless carrier, we are committed to promoting the safe use of wireless technology, and are extremely proud to support the FHP’s long-standing efforts to keep our Florida roads safe.”