Kansas Insurance Commissioner introduces “Don’t Text #Just Drive” campaign

Miss Kansas Kendall Schoenekase and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer film a commercial advertising "Just Drive," a campaign advocating for motorists to not text while driving. (Photo courtesy of Kansas Insurance Department)

Kansas State Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer’s “Don’t Text #JustDrive” campaign kicked off Monday.

The contest, which runs from Sept. 19 to Nov. 22, challenges students, alumni and fans of Kansas universities to take a pledge to be safer drivers and never text while driving.

“More than 330,000 accidents each year are caused by texting and driving,” Selzer said.

Selzer introduced the “friendly competition” in order to help save lives on Kansas roadways, he said.

The schools participating are Kansas State, the University of Kansas, Wichita State, Fort Hays State, Pittsburg State, Washburn and Emporia State.

In addition to the statewide contest, K-State and KU will be competing to see which university can gain the most pledges. The winner will be announced at the Nov. 26 K-State vs. KU football game in Manhattan.

“All Kansans can be winners through this campaign,” Selzer said. “We can show pride in our universities and make a statement at the same time by using this phrase: ‘Eyes up. Phone off. Save Lives.'”

Richard Carlson, interim secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, said that distracted driving, especially texting, is the fastest-growing cause of vehicle crashes.

“Sending or receiving a text takes the driver’s eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds on average, the equivalent of driving a football field,” Carlson said.

The “Don’t Text #JustDrive” campaign and AT&T will bring a distracted driving simulator to K-State’s campus on Nov. 15, said Stephen Kucera, speaker pro tempore of the Student Senate and senior in music performance and accounting.

“There’s no audience, we think, that’s more crucial for getting this message out than students at both the high school and university level,” Mike Scott, president of AT&T Kansas, said.

Kendall Schoenekase, Miss Kansas 2016, is partnering with the Kansas Insurance Department to promote this initiative, which is also her platform for her year as Miss Kansas.

The campaign is sponsored by AT&T of Kansas, the Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Automobile Insurance Plan, Kansas Turnpike Authority, Allstate Insurance, State Farm Insurance, Farmers Insurance and Upland Mutual Insurance.

The pledge reads,”No text message, email, website or video is worth the risk of endangering my life or the lives of others on the road. I pledge to not text and drive and will take action to educate others about the dangers of texting while driving. No text is worth the risk. It can wait.”

K-State students, alumni and fans can text WILDCAT to 50555 or visit engage.att.com/icwkansas/ to take the pledge.