01-29-2014 10:13 PM
By Shayna Dickson,
Senior Staff Underwriter in Auto Innovation and Development
I’ll admit it: I used to text and drive.
But then I heard firsthand from a father who lost his 17-year-old daughter in a car accident caused by a texting driver. The driver veered into his daughter’s lane, hitting her vehicle head-on. His daughter and the texting driver were killed.
Shayna Dickson and Joel Camarano, Assistant Vice President of P&C Underwriting and Development
Tears rolled down his cheek as he showed me pictures of his beautiful daughter and then the gruesome accident scene. I couldn’t help but think of my baby girl and how incredibly sad and distraught I would be over losing her. It was then that I personally decided texting and driving wasn’t worth losing a life — mine, my daughter’s or an innocent person’s.
Soon after hearing this story, I began working on USAA’s collaboration with AT&T’s It Can Wait® campaign, which aims to increase awareness about the dangers of texting while driving. We wanted to get the message out to as many military men, women and families as possible. We quickly set up USAA’s very own It Can Wait tour and awareness campaign.
After developing our website and educational materials, we planned events at different military bases and markets across the country. With a total of 26 stops in seven months, we traveled from coast to coast touching all five branches of the military. These events allowed our USAA employees to have real, face-to-face conversations with thousands of current and prospective USAA members about the dangers of texting while driving.
We learned that one of the most effective tools — and the one that truly changes drivers’ attitudes — is the distracted-driving simulator AT&T designed and developed. The simulator helps demonstrate the dangers of texting behind the wheel. The virtual course is built to mimic everyday driving conditions with speed limits, stoplights, aggressive drivers, pedestrians and other distractions. The simulator also sends the driver text messages, pulling the driver’s eyes and mind off the road, just like in real life. Let’s just say that most people who felt confident in their texting-while-driving skills before the simulation weren’t so confident afterward. We had the power to change minds.
With more than 21,000 pledges, we hope to continue this journey into 2014 while visiting more military installations and hopefully making an even bigger difference.
With tremendous support from the entire It Can Wait team, leading this campaign for USAA has been the most fun I have ever had in my job. It’s also been the most rewarding project I’ve led at USAA. The message is simple but vital: Texting & Driving … It Can Wait. Take the pledge to never text and drive today, and then share your pledge with your friends and your followers on Facebook and Twitter.
Use of the term “member” or “membership” does not convey any eligibility rights for auto and property insurance products, or legal or ownership rights in USAA.
No Department of Defense or government agency endorsement.
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