MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Texting while driving is a dangerous trend that's fast becoming an epidemic.
AT&T is launching a national campaign to turn the tide, urging drivers that the text messages can wait. Those who text while behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to be in a crash.
Although the message applies to all drivers, it's aimed mostly at teens.
Mayor A C Wharton says it's going to take everyone's efforts to convince kids they're not invincible and they can end up in a crash because of texting and driving.
“They really feel that way. This is why kids get hurt in so many different ways, they feel that it's not going to happen to me,” Wharton said.
That's why the City of Memphis is teaming up with AT&T to buck the trend. Deputy Fire Director Michael Putt says the fire department receives about 400 emergency calls everyday, many of them for traffic accidents.
“There are many times the fire department will get there and after the extrication, after the medical treatment, they'll see a cell phone laying on the floor. This indicates someone may have been texting,” Putt said.
Experts say texting while behind the wheel doubles a driver's reaction time. It also takes the driver's eyes off the road for an average of five seconds.
“A car driving at 55 miles an hour can travel the length of a football field in five seconds. Is that worth the risk of driving blindly?” noted AT&T Regional Director Chuck Thomas III.
There have been more than 700 fatal car accidents in Tennessee so far this year; 60 of them were in Shelby County.