SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless communications provider, launched a new public information campaign today to encourage Illinois motorists to use hands-free devices while talking on their wireless phones when they are driving.
The announcement of the campaign comes two days after Gov. George Ryan signed legislation (House Bill 10) into law that allows drivers in the state to use earbuds and one-sided headsets with their wireless phones while operating their vehicles. Verizon Wireless was a staunch supporter of the legislation.
"Now that this law has been passed, we want all Illinois drivers to know it will enable them to keep both hands on the wheel while talking on their wireless phones," said Greg Klimek, president, Illinois/Wisconsin Region, Verizon Wireless. "Common sense tells us this is the responsible way to drive."
Verizon Wireless, in cooperation with the Secretary of State, scripted and filmed a public service announcement (PSA) to be aired on television stations throughout Illinois and in selected markets contiguous to the state. The PSA also will be broadcast on radio stations in the region.
"I am very pleased that Verizon Wireless has taken the initiative on this important issue of responsible driving," White said. "By supporting this legislation and helping get the word out to Illinois drivers, Verizon Wireless is to be commended for promoting the responsible use of wireless phones in vehicles."
In the PSA, filmed in Springfield, Ill., White describes the new state law that allows drivers to use hands-free devices, demonstrates how easily they operate and encourages drivers who use wireless phones to plug in to hands-free devices when they "buckle up."
"We want to thank Secretary of State White for appearing in this public service announcement and devoting time from his busy schedule to film this spot," Klimek said. "His personal credibility and authority with Illinois citizens give this message the impact we hoped for."
White and Klimek said they will ask television and radio stations throughout the state to air the PSA as often as possible. They said that when Illinois drivers learn about this law, they will be more likely to use hands-free devices while operating their vehicles.
Klimek said in addition to producing this PSA, Verizon Wireless is taking other steps to increase the responsible use of wireless phones in vehicles. For instance, the company is requiring that by January 2002 handset vendors provide only phones with hands-free capabilities and is challenging manufacturers to develop additional technologies such as voice-activated dialing that make the in-vehicle use of wireless phones easier. For now, Verizon Wireless sells hands-free devices beginning at $14.99, so all customers have ready and affordable access to these products.
"We will continue our educational efforts to make responsible driving and proper wireless phone use compatible on our roadways," Klimek said. "More than 118-million wireless phones are currently in use across the nation and more than 140,000 emergency calls are made every day from wireless phones in the United States. Clearly, wireless phones are an important tool in helping Americans manage their business and personal lives."
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 28 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 97 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 http://www.verizonwireless.com.