Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
New Brunswick • Somerset

Students Take Put It Down Pledge

February 27, 2012
As part of the countywide "Put It Down" distracted driving campaign co-sponsored by Somerset Medical Center, February 27th thru March 2nd has been designated as “Take The Pledge To Put It Down Week” in all high schools throughout Somerset County.

Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano states that during the week approximately 20,000 high school students in grades 9-12, will be asked to view the video documentary produced by AT&T entitled “The Last Text”. Subsequent to viewing the video, each student will be asked to sign a pledge vowing (1) not to text or use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle and (2) not to text or call someone who he or she knows is operating a motor vehicle.

In the fall of 2011, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office formed a coalition with the Somerset County Association of Chiefs of Police, Somerset Medical Center and Emergency Medical Associates. On November 29th, the coalition launched “Put It Down”, an initiative designed to raise awareness of the dangers of the various forms of distracted driving in a concerted effort to reduce car accidents and save lives. Focusing upon education and prevention, “Take The Pledge To Put It Down Week” is the second phase of the “Put It Down” initiative. Phase 1 involved a focused enforcement and educational campaign undertaken primarily by local police departments which resulted in over 2,800 warnings issued to offending drivers who were required to watch “The Last Text” in order to avoid receiving a summons and complaint.

Prosecutor Soriano further states that as a result of the overwhelming success of “Put It Down”, AT&T and Crime Stoppers of Somerset County, Inc. have expressed their support of the program as well as future efforts to heighten the public’s awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. “AT&T is pleased to support ‘Take the Pledge to Put it Down Week,’” said J. Michael Schweder, President of AT&T New Jersey. “Somerset County has been a groundbreaking advocate of texting-while driving-enforcement and prevention, and its outreach, via ‘Take the Pledge’ week, to teens of every age – even before they take the wheel – is important.” 

Prosecutor Soriano offers the following:

“The feedback received from our “Put It Down” initiative has been tremendously positive, and the success of that phase of the program went well beyond anyone’s expectations. In this second phase, we are reaching out to all of the high school students in Somerset County in hopes of building an enormous alliance to foster a change in behavior and, thereby, begin the put an end to the dreadful consequences of distracted driving.”

Somerset County Crime Stoppers, Inc. has agreed to offer all students who sign the pledge next week the opportunity to win one of two Apple Ipads. High schools will make signed pledges available for collection by Somerset Medical Center, and on March 15th a drawing will be held at the Medical Center for two very lucky students.