For more than three years, DOT has been leading the charge to end America's distracted driving epidemic. We have worked tirelessly to let people know that texting or talking on a cell phone behind the wheel puts everyone on the road at risk.
In that time, we've been lucky enough to work with many individuals and organizations who share our commitment to safety. And today, I'm thrilled to welcome another partner to our effort: the hit FOX TV show Glee.
A few months ago, Glee featured a major storyline about the dangers of distracted driving. Quinn Fabray, one of the show's main characters played by Dianna Agron, was seriously injured in a car crash caused by texting while driving.
Today, footage from that episode is being used in a new series of public service announcements (PSAs) designed to help young people get the message that texting and driving don't mix. The "On My Way" PSAs emphasize that just reading a text message behind the wheel can take your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds – enough time to drive the length of a football field.
“This was a story we wanted to tell because we know the influence our show can have in starting conversations and raising awareness,” said Glee executive producer and co-creator Ryan Murphy. “We had been looking for an opportunity to tell the story of how a few seconds of carelessness could have a devastating impact on people’s lives, and we’ve already heard from thousands of our fans about how this story touched them."
"We must help educate the public about the dangers of texting while driving,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “These Glee PSAs show that distracted driving can have serious consequences, and we hope young drivers take that message to heart and share it with their friends.”
This new campaign is just the latest effort in DOT’s fight against distracted driving. Since 2010, our "Faces of Distracted Driving" video series has been seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers. In June, our "Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving" outlined concrete steps safety advocates around the country can take to reduce distracted driving in their communities.
And today, NHTSA is announcing a new grant program that will provide up to $17.5 million to support the efforts of states that have laws banning distracted driving.
The message is clear: A few seconds of distracted driving behind the wheel can kill or seriously injure drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
We want to prevent those tragedies, and we welcome the support of safety partners like Glee. My thanks go out to all of our partners who helped make this new PSA campaign possible, particularly the Ad Council, Ryan Murphy, and the entire cast of Glee.