California Highway Patrol and Verizon Wireless Support Wireless Safety Week, May 21-28

IRVINE, CA — Both drivers and wireless phones are increasing in number on California streets and freeways. Today, more than 11 million Californians own wireless phones, and many people are concerned about distractions while driving.

The growth of traffic congestion, along with the rapidly growing population of wireless phone owners in California, has prompted the California Highway Patrol and Verizon Wireless to jointly remind motorists of the importance of reducing their distractions while driving.

"At Verizon Wireless, we are committed to educating consumers statewide and across the country on how to drive responsibly," said Verizon Wireless Southern California Region President Mike Finley. "And, our cross-country educational campaign 'Drive Responsibly. Call with care,' aggressively communicates responsible driving tips to cell phone users of all ages."

"One of our highest priorities is to put our strength behind enhancing the availability, affordability and awareness of hands-free technologies to enhance driver safety," said Verizon Wireless Northern California Region President Ralph Martinez. We believe that our customers' attentiveness to driving can be improved by using wireless service with convenient hands-free technologies, such as headsets, earpieces and voice-activated systems."

To help celebrate Wireless Safety Week, May 21 - 28, and promote responsible driving on California freeways and streets, the California Highway Patrol and Verizon Wireless recommend that wireless phone owners use the following safety tips while driving:

  • 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

  • Preprogram important and frequently dialed numbers, including home and baby-sitter, so you can dial them by pressing only a few buttons

  • Never take notes or write down phone numbers while driving. Rather, 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

  • If traffic conditions warrant your undivided attention, turn your phone off, and let calls go to voice mail or activate call forwarding

With Mother's Day, Graduation and Father's Day promising new cellular phone users, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Verizon Wireless also urge wireless phone users to dial 9-1-1 only for serious emergencies. Appropriate reasons to call 9-1-1 include:

  • To report a collision or road hazard, if an emergency vehicle is not already on scene

  • Report a reckless or suspected intoxicated driver

  • For a medical emergency

  • A driver in distress

  • A crime in progress

About Verizon Wireless

As the U.S. wireless industry leader, Verizon Wireless has made the responsible use of in-vehicle wireless phones a top priority for the company and its customers. Verizon Wireless believes that its customers' attentiveness to driving can be improved by using wireless service with convenient hands-free technologies, such as headsets, earpieces and voice-activated systems. The company's mission is to put its strength behind enhancing the availability, affordability, and awareness of hands-free technologies. This effort includes spearheading hands-free educational programs among drivers and wireless users of all ages; mandating handset manufacturers to ensure hands-free, voice-activated compatibility for their handsets by 2002 or risk losing Verizon Wireless' business; selling earpieces and headsets at low prices to encourage their use; and, when appropriate, supporting statewide legislation that requires drivers to use hands-free devices when conducting in-vehicle calls.

Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 27 million wireless voice and data customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD), including Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless and PrimeCo Personal Communications. Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at