Verizon Wireless Supports Driver Education

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Verizon Wireless has introduced a curriculum package designed to teach young drivers that, when operating a vehicle, the first priority is responsible driving. The program was unveiled yesterday at a press conference held during a drivers' education class at Coon Rapids High School. The educational video and printed materials are being sent free of charge to the Minnesota Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association and in coming months to school districts throughout all states served by Verizon Wireless' Northwest Area.

"Verizon Wireless is making the Cellular Telephone Safety Test video and printed materials available free to high school drivers' education programs throughout the state," said Lance Rusco, director of sales for Verizon Wireless in Minnesota. "While wireless phones can be an invaluable tool -- in contacting emergency personnel or helping others in need -- we want to train tomorrow's drivers how to use today's technology safely."

Produced to appeal to teenagers, the video uses seven scenarios to teach safe driving and responsible wireless phone use. In addition, eight safety tips reinforce the video's message that responsible driving must be the first priority.

"We developed this program because wireless phones have become a way of life for many drivers," said Rusco. "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 drivers develop good habits and an awareness of the need to focus on their main priority: responsible driving."

Representatives from the Minnesota Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association have agreed to distribute the video and training materials. The Automobile Association of Minnesota/Iowa also supports the drivers' education program. "The time to start educating drivers about responsible phone use is when they're teenagers," said Daron Van Helden, spokesman from AAA of Minnesota/Iowa. "Verizon Wireless is making a difference by stepping up to train young drivers that responsible driving is their main priority.

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.

The Northwest Area includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota. The Verizon Wireless Drivers' Education materials have already been distributed in Oregon, Washington, Utah, Kansas and Missouri.

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 25 million wireless voice and data customers and nearly 4 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 Plc (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: