Verizon Wireless Launches Driving Safety Program Aimed at Teens

OVERLAND PARK, KAN. — Verizon Wireless has introduced a curriculum package designed to teach young drivers that, when operating a car, their first responsibility is safe driving. Today, the educational video and printed materials are being sent free of charge to over 300 high schools in Kansas and western Missouri. The initiative is part of the company's activities for National Wireless Safety Week, which runs the week of May 22.

"For over a decade in this market, we developed a tradition of supporting many community activities and charitable organizations in the neighborhoods in which we did business as Cellular One. Our name has changed to Verizon Wireless, but we remain committed to giving back to these communities, particularly in ways that promote safety and enhance quality of life," said Kirk Golbach, regional president, Verizon Wireless in Kansas/Missouri. "By producing a specially designed curriculum and making it available to high school drivers' education programs throughout Kansas and western Missouri, we aim to help educate young drivers how to use a wireless phone safely."

Produced to appeal to teenagers, the program consists of a 10-minute video that uses seven scenarios to teach safe driving and responsible cell phone use. In addition, eight safety tips reinforce the video's message that safety is a driver's first responsibility. Printed materials include a question and answer sheet associated with the video and wireless safety tips endorsed by the Wireless Foundation.

"We developed this program because wireless phones have become a way of life for many drivers, including an increasing number of teens," Golbach explained. "And it is apparent that any number of activities - including eating, playing with the radio or CD, talking with passengers, or irresponsible use of a wireless phone - can distract a driver. We hope this program will help young drivers develop good habits and an awareness of their main responsibility on the road - safe driving."

Copies of the program were also provided to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas and Missouri Departments of Transportation, the Kansas Driver's Safety Education Association and AAA representatives. School districts wanting additional copies of the materials can order them free of charge by calling Verizon Wireless in Overland Park, Kan. at 913-344-2622.

Previously, the program was launched in Utah, Washington and Oregon school districts under the AirTouch name. It will be rolled out to the remaining school districts in the Verizon Wireless Northwest Area in the months ahead. This includes Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming.

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with over 16 million wireless voice and data customers and nearly 4 million paging customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by combining the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp. (NYSE:BEL) and Vodafone AirTouch Plc (LSE:VOD; NYSE:VOD). The new company includes assets from Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging. Cellular One Kansas/Missouri was previously owned and operated by AirTouch Communications. This included five markets: Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Wichita and St. Joseph.

Verizon Wireless will be further strengthened by the wireless assets of GTE Corp. (NYSE:GTE) when it completes its merger with Bell Atlantic. Once complete, the new company will have a footprint covering more than 90% of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50, and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. Headquartered in New York City and Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is 30,000 employees strong.