Reducing Distractions On The Road This Labor Day Weekend

IRVINE, Calif. - This Labor Day weekend, Verizon Wireless and the Automobile Club of Southern California would like to remind all wireless phone users that when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, their first priority is to drive safely. This is especially important during times of increased traffic, such as the Southland will experience this Labor Day weekend.

Every day, Americans make nearly 100,000 calls to 9-1-1 and other emergency numbers from their wireless phones - that's more than 35 million a year. Many of these calls are placed from phones in automobiles.

"Wireless phones promote personal and public safety when an automobile breaks down, when a driver is lost in an unfamiliar area, when a driver spots the operator of another vehicle driving unsafely, and when spotting accidents or other potentially life-threatening incidents," said Mike Finley, regional president, Verizon Wireless. "However, motorists always need to remember that the ultimate goal of driving is to arrive safely at their destination. Drivers who need to place a call should dial when the car is not in motion, or consider using a hands-free device, a handset with voice-activated dialing, or employ the memory dialing function on their phones to minimize the potential for distraction."

"Also, drivers should be especially careful when changing radio stations, eating or drinking, map-reading or engaging in other activities that can be distracting," said Arline Dillman, traffic safety manager for the Automobile Club of Southern California. "You can provide greater safety to other drivers, and to the passengers in your own vehicle, by paying the proper attention to the road."

To promote safer driving on Southern California freeways and streets this weekend, the Auto Club and Verizon Wireless have developed the following set of motorist guidelines:

  • When behind the wheel, safe driving is always your first responsibility.
  • Dial your phone when your car is not in motion.
  • Always use hands-free when driving and talking; when you turn your phone on, make sure your hands-free device is on and working.
  • Never take notes or write down phone numbers while driving. Pull off the road to a safe spot or leave yourself a message on your voice mail system.
  • Know your wireless phone number so emergency personnel can call you back. You may want to write it down and keep it in your car for quick reference.

In addition, drivers should observe the following safety guidelines, according to the Auto Club:

  • Minimize distractions and increase your awareness of the driving environment. Avoid driving while applying makeup or shaving, eating or drinking, reading, or arguing.
  • Keep your eyes moving and stay constantly aware of the activity around and ahead of you.
  • Change your outlook. You're not fighting traffic, and traffic is not fighting you. You are part of the driving environment. Learn to accept things that can't be changed, such as the behavior of other drivers, traffic volume and road repairs.
  • Never assume anything, such as that a car will stop at a stop sign. Be aware of each situation and what you see and know, not what you expect and hope.
  • Keep your car well maintained.
  • Think through options for avoiding potentially dangerous traffic situations.

Brochures that include the tips above and describe safe driving techniques, are available free of charge at Verizon Wireless stores throughout Southern California. Verizon Wireless customers are encouraged to call the Verizon Wireless Patrol by dialing *9 on their wireless phone to obtain phone numbers to report road hazards, flooded roads and intersections, or traffic delays.

Verizon Wireless took an industry-leading position earlier this year when the company launched a series of business initiatives to make using wireless phones in a car easier and ultimately safer. Specifically, these efforts were aimed at increasing the availability, affordability and awareness of hands-free technologies. Verizon Wireless retail stores carry the latest products, services and technologies to make hands-free wireless calling available and affordable. Across the country, the company is offering four universal headsets, which work with most manufacturers' phones -- starting at $14.99. Shipping is free to those who purchase hands-free accessories at www.verizonwireless.com.

"We are requiring our handset suppliers not only to deliver phones with a universal jack so that our customers have a wider variety of hands-free options, but also, to produce wireless phones with voice-activated dialing and two-way speakerphone capabilities within two years, so that users can dial calls without pressing any buttons," said Finley.

About the Automobile Club of Southern California

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs and legislative advocacy. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at www.aaa-calif.com.

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 25 million wireless voice and data customers and nearly 3.5 million paging customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp - now Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) - and Vodafone (LSE:VOD; NYSE:VOD). The new company includes the assets of Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging. The new company has a footprint covering nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. Verizon Wireless, headquartered in New York City and Bedminster, NJ, is 30,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company in its Media Center on the Web at: http://www.verizonwireless.com/mediacenter.