In early 2010, 11Alive launched The Great Hang Up. Our road test proved talking and texting while driving is dangerous. Thousands of you signed the Great Hang-Up Pledge. Since then, Georgia passed a no-texting while driving law. But if you drive Metro-Atlanta roads, you know: it's still happening.
This week, there are new efforts to have drivers make a New Year's Resolution. A new gut-wrenching documentary provides new ammunition.
It's a scene you could pick up in any high school parking lot in America: a flurry of fingers.
"I text every day from 500 to 700 texts a day"
"Texting is pretty much an everyday part of my life"
"I text more than I call, more than I e-mail, maybe more than I talk."
"Everyday? 500 to 600. It's a steady stream"
But for a group of teens in Walton County, it all stops when the engine starts.
"I'm pretty sure no one's ever gotten a text that's more important than losing their life over."
Texting and driving is now illegal in Georgia, but law enforcement officers say it's proved difficult to enforce, and harder to prosecute.
Juvenile court Judge J. Rhymer said he hasn't seen a charge using the new no-texting law yet. But he thinks having the law in effect will convince people to stop the dangerous practice. "That's where the true effect will come, because it's going to be hard to prosecute the case, but the fact that the word gets out. It is a violation. It's one point on your driver's license and $150.00 fine," Judge Rhymer said.
He believes the law will be used mostly to prove blame in serious injury or death cases. No one in this group wants to see that.
On January 10th, Walton County's Youth Advocacy Board and other local leaders will make a New Year's Resolution to eradicate texting and driving in their community
The resolution comes as a new mini-documentary hits the web. At one point, people hold up signs with well known text-messages: "Yeah", "LOL", "Where r u". They are the last text sent in accidents that caused death, massive injury, and lasting guilt.
"The Last Text" documentary is sponsored by AT&T, the National Safety Council, and The Wireless Association. It's part of AT&T's unusual message to convince people NOT to use their product... as least, not while driving. Their on-going campaign is called "It Can Wait". The gut-wrenching stories have gained more than 85,000 views on YouTube and will hit schools across Georgia in 2011. (You can watch the entire video, or the 90-second version by clicking on video links at the right.)
"No matter the text message they want to send, it can wait. It can wait until you're in a safe place. Until you're pulled off the road and you're not driving," AT&T spokesman Dawn Benton said.
For teens in Walton County, the flow of information, news, and gossip will continue into 2011. Just not while driving,
Sign the Great Hang Up Pledge Here.
Watch The Center for Investigative Action's Texting and Driving Test Here.