Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 11/7/11
"I pledge not to text and drive. I will also encourage my friends and family to drive safely by keeping their eyes on the road at all times" Take the pledge with Anze Kopitar, the LA Kings, and Mercury Insurance. Teaming up to make California roads and highways safer while reducing auto insurance rates, Kopitar is serving as a Mercury Insurance Guest Spokesperson to get the word out that texting while driving is basically the equivalent of driving while drunk. According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Study, texting while driving increases the amount of time one's eyes spend off the road by 400 percent. That coupled with the potentially hazardous driving habits of teens, 30 of whom send over 100 texts per day and are the least experienced drivers on the road, has created the need for Kopi and the Kings to become involved in a worthwhile public safety campaign to broadcast a fairly simple message. Driving while texting is extremely dangerous. "You just can't do it," Kopitar said at the Kings' El Segundo practice facility last month while appearing with the Kings' video crew and a contingent of Mercury Insurance representatives. He'll appear in an anti-texting PSA during an intermission of Los Angeles' game at San Jose Monday on FOX Sports West. "I always make sure to send texts before I leave, because you just can't text while driving. It's irresponsible," Kopitar said. It's also illegal. As of 2009, fines have been assessed to drivers who use a handheld device to send or review electronic communications while driving, with police and highway patrol specifically looking for targeting drivers whose eyes may be leaving the road. Kopitar isn't the first athlete to appear alongside Mercury Insurance to promote safer roads. To promote the Don't Text & Drive Pledge, Mercury recently became a sponsor of Temecula-based Andrew Murray. At 15 years old, Murray races professionally without yet having obtained a drivers license. Because of his age and the ability to reach his peers who will soon be joining the 22 million people who drive in California, he's an effective spokesman at getting out the word out to fellow teens that even though thousands of teen lives are lost in accidents each year, the Automobile Club of Southern California says 86 percent of teens admit to texts while driving. "Safe driving is a major concern of mine and Mercury's," Murray said to the Valley News in Temecula. "A lot of my peers need to fully understand how deadly it can be when they don't concentrate while driving." Erik Thompson, Advertising Director for Mercury Insurance, joined Kopitar at the video shoot and highlighted several statistics, including the study that showed that drivers who send and read texts are four times as likely to get into an accident, or that nearly half of all adult drivers have sent texts with other passengers in the car. "Distracted driving, especially among teens, is reaching epidemic proportions," Thompson said. Tune in to FOX Sports West during Monday's Kings-Sharks game to watch Kopitar and the Kings join Mercury for an important public safety effort. For more information on the dangers of texting while driving, and to take the pledge yourself, please visit http:mercuryinsuranceopen.compledge.aspx.
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