10-1-13 8:00 AM EDT | Email Article

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With Florida's new texting ban taking effect today, students at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School (BMCHS) in Spring Hill are experiencing first-hand the dangers of texting while driving through an AT&T simulator. But the simulator isn't the only reminder for students that texting behind the wheel can have deadly consequences. As part of today's event, a scholarship will be awarded to a BMCHS student in memory of Allie Augello, a former Bishop McLaughlin student killed at age 17 in a 2008 automobile accident caused by another teen driver who was texting.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120612/DA23287LOGO)

Allie's tragic loss is an example of why AT&T is taking simulators to hundreds of schools around the country. Teens are prolific texters and novice drivers, and that makes for a deadly combination on the road. The simulator events are part of the It Can Waitmovement, started by AT&T in 2010 to address the growing danger of texting-while-driving. The message behind It Can Wait is simple but powerful: No text is worth dying for.

"No family should have to go through what we've gone through," said Steve Augello. "Losing a child is something you never get over. That's why it's so critical to help spread the It Can Wait message and take the pledge to never text and drive."

In remembrance of Allie, Steve and his wife Agnes will attend the BMCHS simulator event to award a student with a scholarship from the Allie Augello Scholarship Fund. To be considered for the scholarship, students were asked to write an essay on the dangers of texting and driving. The top 10 essays were selected and a winner was chosen by the Augellos. It will be the first time since Allie's death that the couple has addressed the school's faculty or students.

Before students try out the AT&T simulator, they will watch the new It Can Waitdocumentary, "From One Second to the Next," which shows the heart-wrenching aftermath of texting while driving.

"We are working diligently to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving," said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad. "We're pleased to support the 'It Can Wait' campaign in Florida to ask drivers to be responsible and not text while driving."

"No one should lose their life to a text. It's 100 percent preventable," said AT&T Florida President Marshall Criser, lll.  "That's why we're aggressively working to raise awareness around the issue and encouraging everyone to stop texting while driving and help spread the It Can Waitmessage. That's how we're going to save lives."

In fact, a recent survey by ConnectSafely.org 1 found that individuals who speak up can have a profound impact on texting while driving, particularly on teens:

  • 78% of teen drivers say they're likely not to text and drive if friends tell them it's wrong or stupid.
  • 90% say they'd stop if a friend in the car asked them to.
  • 93% would stop if a parent in the car asked them to.
  • 44% say that they would be thankful if a passenger complained about their texting while driving.

Launched as an awareness campaign, It Can Waithas grown into a movement, with more than 200+ organizations involved and more than 3 million no-texting-while-driving pledges made through ItCanWait.com, social sites, simulator events, and the recent Drive 4 Pledges Day.

To take the pledge and get more information, visit www.ItCanWait.com.

1 ConnectSafely.org survey sponsored by AT&T    


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Morningstar - 2013/10/1 - AT&T And Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School Mark Start Of Florida Texting Ban With Simulator Event, Ceremony In Memory Of Texting And Driving Victim
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