CHICAGO, IL— In a major new push to slow the growing epidemic of distracted driving, Oprah Winfrey and a national and grassroots coalition including traffic safety organizations, law enforcement agencies, federal and state transportation and highway safety offices, advocacy groups and concerned citizens will join forces Friday, April 30, to mark the first ever National No Phone Zone Day and drive home a simple message: Put down the phone when you're behind the wheel. No Phone Zone Day will be marked with a special live episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, viewing rallies in five major cities, a sponsored public service announcement campaign to run on television, in print and online, messages on outdoor billboards in markets across the country, social media activity and more calling on drivers to make their cars No Phone Zones.

Said Oprah Winfrey, "My biggest hope for the No Phone Zone campaign is that it becomes mandatory that no one uses their phone in the car or texts while driving—just as seat belts are mandatory, just as driving while drunk is considered absolutely taboo, I'm hoping that this becomes not just law, but second nature for all of us."

In total, 27 states and the District of Columbia are calling attention to distracted driving as part of No Phone Zone Day. In Chicago, a live, special episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show will feature the stories of families who have lost loved ones due to distracted driving, along with stories from survivors of accidents caused by a driver who was distracted. The broadcast will highlight five rallies throughout the country, organized to educate people on the dangers of distracted driving. The rallies will be hosted by: Oprah Show special correspondent Holly Robinson Peete at the Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech in Atlanta; Derrick Ashong, host of Oprah Radio's The Derrick Ashong Experience, at Boston University's Tsai Performance Center in Boston; Oprah Show special correspondent Ali Wentworth at the GM Renaissance Center Wintergarden in Detroit where Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm will sign a bill banning texting while driving into law; in Los Angeles, Oprah Show special correspondent Lisa Ling will host and American Idol winner Kris Allen and finalist Allison Iraheta will appear at John Marshall High School in Los Angeles; and O, The Oprah Magazine editor-at-large and Oprah Radio host Gayle King (The Gayle King Show) will interview U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood at Washington, D.C.'s Newseum.

Oprah Show partner stations WSB-TV Channel 2 in Atlanta, WCVB-TV Channel 5 in Boston, WXYZ Channel 7 in Detroit, KABC ABC7 in Los Angeles and WJLA ABC7 in Washington, D.C., will support the rallies in their respective markets.

As a national call to action, all viewers and rally participants will be asked to take the No Phone Zone pledge by going to www.Oprah.com/NoPhoneZone or by texting NPZ to 30644. By pledging, drivers will agree to make their cars No Phone Zones in one of the following ways: by not using their phones at all while driving, by agreeing to stop texting and use only hands-free calling or by just not texting while they drive. Studies show it's safest to not use your phone at all while driving.

More than 200,000 people have already signed the No Phone Zone pledge, including a list of more than 60 celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Tina Fey, Shaun White, Morgan Freeman, Sir Elton John, Jerry Seinfeld, the cast of TV's Glee, country music's Lady Antebellum and Queen Rania of Jordan, among others.

"Putting an end to distracted driving will make America's roads safer for everyone," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "That's why I want drivers across the country to pledge that their vehicle will be a No Phone Zone. Each day we honor that pledge is a safer day on our roadways. Everyone needs play their part to end this deadly epidemic."

A coalition of transportation safety organizations will join Oprah Winfrey and Harpo Studios' No Phone Zone Day effort, organizing and participating in activities across the country. The Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS), FocusDriven, SADD (Students against Destructive Decisions), the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and RADD, the Entertainment Industry's Voice for Road Safety, are among the groups helping to educate and activate people to refrain from using their cell phones while driving.

In addition, No Phone Zone corporate partners Sprint, General Motors/Chevrolet and Liberty Mutual are committing their support for National No Phone Zone Day by helping to spread the No Phone Zone message to their empoyees, customers and the general public. They are also supporting the rallies, bringing together victims of distracted driving, advocates, elected officials, parents, youth and law enforcement to discuss best practices and steps to limit distracted driving in their own communities.

Beginning April 30, The Oprah Store will launch a line of exclusive No Phone Zone merchandise, including bumper stickers and keychains. The Oprah Store will donate 100 percent of the profits from the sale of No Phone Zone products to FocusDriven, an advocacy group for victims of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers using cell phones.

According to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving took nearly 6,000 lives and injured more than 500,000 motorists in 2008. Distracted driving constitutes any nondriving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving.

At any given moment during the daylight hours, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a handheld cell phone, according to NHTSA. By simply by turning off their cell phone while behind the wheel, drivers are four times less likely to get into accidents serious enough to cause injury. Studies show it's safest not to use your phone at all when you're driving.

For more information on the No Phone Zone campaign, please visit Oprah.com/NoPhoneZone.

About Harpo
Harpo Studios is the home of Harpo Productions, Inc. the most successful production company in daytime talk, producing the number one, award-winning The Oprah Winfrey Show and syndication's latest success, The Dr. Oz Show, as well as having developed Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray. In September 2010, Harpo Productions will launch The Nate Berkus Show. Harpo Productions creates and develops original TV programming for primetime, syndication and cable television and operates Oprah.com, a premier lifestyle website. ZoCo Productions, LLC, an affiliate of Harpo Productions, Inc., and Sony Pictures Television co-produce The Dr. Oz Show.??Harpo Print, LLC and Hearst Magazines publish the monthly O, The Oprah Magazine publication. Harpo Films produces feature films and, through an exclusive deal with HBO, scripted television programming. Harpo Radio, Inc. produces Oprah Radio (XM channel 156, Sirius channel 195 as part of its "Best of XM" package) on Sirius XM Radio.??A joint venture between Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a multi-platform company, will debut on January 1, 2011, in approximately 80 million homes, on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel.

NEXT STORY

Comment

LONG FORM
ONE WORD