Do you have plans tomorrow? It is Friday, but whatever you have booked, it can wait. There is something that the residents of Lower Providence should do first.
The Montgomery County Commissioners and the Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD) are working together to ensure the continued safety of the county’s residents, and that includes Lower Providence.
The two organizations will spend tomorrow urging all residents to take “the pledge.” And what are you agreeing to? Something quite simple: to not text and drive.
On Friday, Sept. 19, the county has designated a Montgomery County “Pledge Day” as part of AT&T’s “It Can Wait® Distracted Driving Campaign.”
“Community members, workplace staff, school faculties and students are encouraged to ‘Paint Montgomery County Blue’ by wearing blue on Sept. 19 to show support for safe driving,” said the county’s coordinator of public relations Jessica Willingham. “Take a picture dressed in blue and email the photo to email@example.com to be shared on MCHD’s website and social media pages.”
Willingham said that the MCHD is “committed to community outreach efforts that will reduce distracted driving behaviors, which are preventable driving risk factors.” Residents are asked to visit www.itcanwait.com for additional information and resources on the pledge.
“Take the pledge not to text and drive,” she said. “Download a free cell phone application that, when activated, will automatically respond to any incoming calls or text messages received while driving.”
The cell phone carrier is happy to partner with the county to offer the program, ensuring the safety of residents.
“Thanks to the continued support of It Can Wait® advocates like the Montgomery County Health Department and county leaders, together we’ve inspired more than 5 million pledges to never text and drive,” said AT&T Mid-Atlantic President J. Michael Schweder. “The movement has created strong momentum for change. We know that personal commitments, shared commitments, and technology are the most powerful tools to end texting and driving – and we salute Montgomery County for taking such a leadership role.”
The county’s own commissioners agree.
“I led the fight for a bill banning distracted driving when I was in the legislature, but that legislation punishes a driver after the fact,” said Josh Shapiro, chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners and a former state representative. “It is important that we stop people from texting while driving to prevent unnecessary accidents and deaths. That is why I applaud this effort by the health department to bring attention to this important issue.”
Lower Providence Township residents that are not sure if it is a problem can analyze some statistics for our county.
“In Montgomery County, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of injury and death in people 15 to 25 years of age,” said Willingham. “There were 1,224 crashes attributed to distracted driving in Montgomery County in 2012. Of those crashes, five were fatal and 614 resulted in injury. One of those five fatal crashes involved a teenager.”
Some of the busiest roads in and around our township have the largest amount of cases involving distracted driving.
“Also in 2012, State Route 63 and State Route 73 had the highest number of distracted driving crashes,” said Willingham.
For more information on the “It Can Wait” program, AT&T has released the following video:
The county has released information that it will continue to find new ways to inform residents about methods to prevent such accidents. It’s department within MCHD aims each day to find unique ways to remain safe.
“MCHD’s Community Traffic Safety Project is focused on safety programming regarding seat belt usage, teen driving, impaired driving, and pedestrian safety, which are available to all schools in Montgomery County,” said Willingham. “All of these programs are provided to the community free of charge through funding made available from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.”
For more information on the pledge or the educational programs, residents can contact Katie Kucz, Montgomery County Health Department, in the Health Promotion Division, at 610-278-5117 ext.6787 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the department’s website at www.health.montcopa.org.