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In its role as a top wireless phone provider in the country, AT&T has started a campaign to end texting while driving by all drivers with an emphasis on teen drivers. The program has been christened "Texting & Driving . . . It Can Wait."

"Many people don't realize how big a risk they are taking every time they take their eyes off the road," said Ken McNeely, President of AT&T California. "But the reality is, they are risking not only their own lives, but the lives of others, every time they send or read a text while driving. It is a serious issue that has a simple solution: just don't do it."

May 14, 2012 AT&T released results of a poll that they conducted among teen drivers in the United States. The results are of great concern.

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For the past few years, much has been made regarding the dangers of using cellphones while driving in California. However, not all of the news surrounding this subject is bad. In fact, a new study has given people in San Jose and elsewhere in California a cause for celebration. California's ban on using cellphones while driving is preventing car accidents-less people are getting injured, and the law is saving lives.

During the four years since the law was first passed, traffic fatalities have decreased by 22 percent according to the study, with a stunning decrease of 47 percent in deaths where the responsible driver was using a hand-held cellphone. Other studies about the California law confirm the downward trend between the ban and car crash-related deaths.

One study in particular analyzed deaths both two years before and two years after the ban, showing that overall a significant drop occurred in motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries, as a result of the ban. A survey conducted by the state in 2011 noted that of those responding, 40 percent admitted that since the ban went into effect, they talk less on their phones when behind the wheel.

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Three years after enacting a law requiring drivers to use hands-free cell phone technology, the California Legislature sought to further the safety of all on the road. However, the Legislature's proposed increases for distracted driving fines ultimately led to the bill's veto.

According to state senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the hands-free law "significantly" lowered the number of fatal accidents in California. Statistics cited by The Daily Journal support Sen. Simitian's claim; during the first year California's hands-free law was in effect, the number of vehicle accidents dropped 20 percent and the number of fatalities fell by approximately 700. Yet, even though AAA Automobile Club of Southern California and the California Office of Traffic Safety estimate that between 60 and 70 percent of drivers comply with the hands-free law, fatal accidents still occur as a result of distracted driving.

In an effort to further deter drivers from texting or talking on cell phones without hands-free technology, the Legislature passed a law that would increase the fines for violations. The fines for first offenses would rise from $20 to $50, and subsequent offenses would increase from $50 to $100. In addition, a point would be added to drivers' licenses for subsequent violations - that may result in increased insurance premiums for the driver.

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The number of car accidents caused by distracted drivers seems to be growing every year. We live in a society that favors immediate gratification and this seems to include communicating with our friends and loved ones at all times, even while driving. Public awareness efforts have been in full force to educate people about the dangers of inattentive driving. Additionally, many state legislatures have banned using cell phones or texting while operating a motor vehicle. Now cell phone carriers are joining the fight to curb distracted driving practices.

Cellular companies, such as T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel and AT&T, are developing and exploring technological innovations to stop drivers from using their products while their cars are in motion. The specific technologies may vary, however all are intended to dissuade drivers from using their cell phones in the car by interrupting service in a moving vehicle. For instance, T-Mobile has announced a new paid service that stops call or text notifications when the cell phone is in a moving vehicle. Other companies are working on technologies to intercept a call or text to a cell phone in a moving vehicle.

Will New Technologies Reduce Distracted Driving?

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