Texting and driving caused almost 400,000 injuries and deaths last year across the United States and is quickly becoming America's fastest growing killer, but there's a growing mission to drive those numbers down.

What started off as a wearable reminder to be text free while driving has grown into a national mission to make the roads safer for everyone. Earlier this year, a Colorado family started giving local teens a "TXTNG KILLS" thumb band to make them aware of the dangers of texting and driving. Just a few months later, national attention of the texting crisis has the Edgin family sending out over 30,000 bands per month and working with schools, community groups and police agencies across North America to collect 1,000,000 signatures on their text free driving pledge.

"Texting and driving makes you 23X more likely to crash and causes more accidents than drinking and driving", says Robert Edgin (founder of the Million Pledge Mission), "even though it's illegal to text and drive in most states, very little has been done to educate drivers of just how dangerous it is - until now." The laws across the US and Canada have become increasingly strict in dealing with texting and driving and a number of drivers have been charged with vehicular homicides in recent years for deaths they caused while texting behind the wheel.

Texting and driving  TXTNG KILLS thumb band

The problem, according to Edgin, is that an overwhelming number of drivers make texting a normal part of their daily commute and end up spending more time looking at their phones than they spend looking at the roads. "Texting takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds at a time. At 55 mph, that's the same as driving the length of a football field blind", says Edgin.

The Million Pledge Mission kicked off the first week of April to educate drivers across North America of the dangers of texting and driving and collect 1,000,000 signatures from drivers who commit to be text free behind the wheel. Schools, colleges and a number of police departments and community groups are giving away "TXTNG KILLS" thumb bands to drivers who sign the pledge as a wearable reminder to stay text free while driving. Anti-texting campaigns have grown by the thousands across the nation over the past 12 months and schools are making an extra effort to promote text free driving as prom and graduation seasons (the 2 deadliest weekends of the year for teen drivers) is getting under way.

"This is a problem that every driver in the country has to deal with every time they get in their car", says Edgin. "Most of the people who die in texting and driving accidents are just innocent people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's time for people to do the right thing and put an end to all of these preventable accidents." You can sign the pledge online at www.millionpledgemission.com or by downloading the pledge to print and sign it.

About the Million Pledge Mission

The Million Pledge Mission (www.millionpledgemission.com) is run by the TextingThumbBands company. TextingThumbBands is a family run company that provides silicone TXTNG KILLS thumb bands as well as text free driving pledges and informational material to individuals and groups across North America.




Automotive Service & Repair Week (ASRW) is pleased to announce a new partnership for 2011 with the Muscle Car Network of Florida.  ASRW, comprised of the International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) and the Congress of Automotive Repair & Service (CARS), is scheduled for Oct. 6-8 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. (with the education tracks scheduled to begin Oct. 5).

The Muscle Car Network plans to display approximately 80 vehicles on the ASRW show floor at ASRW, during the expo. The display includes rare, exotic and hot rod vehicles, which belong to members of the network. Additionally, the Muscle Car Network plans to make a donation to a local automotive charity Saturday, Oct. 8, to further education and training for the next generation of automotive service and repair professionals.

“Our audience has a true passion for automobiles, and we know they’ll appreciate this collection of vehicles. We’re pleased to be partnered with this group, and to have something new and exciting to offer at the show this year,” said Ron Pyle, Automotive Service Association (ASA) president and chief staff executive. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to give back to the local Orlando-area community, in appreciation of our time there.”


Plug-in electric vehicles may just be entering the market, but most U.S. consumers are ready to buy them. E Source recently analyzed data from the Nielsen Energy Survey and found that 85 percent of U.S. consumers say they would purchase a battery-driven car either right away (3 percent), when their current car needed replacement (57 percent), or when the technology is proven and it becomes more mainstream (25 percent). The caveat is that consumers strongly prefer (58 percent) plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) versions such as the Chevrolet Volt. PHEVs have greater range than electric-only cars like the Nissan Leaf and only 8 percent of consumers prefer them. "We are seeing a substantial willingness for drivers to move to plug-in electric vehicles, but only if the manufacturers can provide the easy extended range of travel that Americans are used to," says Bill LeBlanc, senior advisor at E Source.

E Source also reports that younger drivers are more willing than older drivers to purchase the electric-only cars, and people who describe themselves as liberals are similarly more inclined to desire the all-electric cars than those classified as conservatives. "We see that all ages and all political mindsets like the plug-in hybrid vehicles equally," says LeBlanc. "But when it comes to the all-electric car, it appears to be seen as more of a 'green' purchase, rather than as a practical upgrade to a more-efficient vehicle."

Another factor that E Source looked at was how far people drive each day and how that affects their desire for a plug-in electric vehicle. Daily driving habits don't seem to affect desire for the all-electric vehicle; however, desire for the PHEV grows as people spend more time in their cars. "Overall, the survey supports the existence of a huge untapped market for electric vehicles that can be charged at night at home. People seem very ready to move to the next generation of cars and dramatically decrease the frequency of their visits to the gas station," reports LeBlanc.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tested the two first generation 2011 plug-ins for the first time and both earned top safety ratings, an endorsement of the automaker's view that you do not have to sacrifice safety for better fuel economy.

The Volt and Leaf earned the top rating of good for front, side, rear, and rollover crash protection. With standard electronic stability control, they qualify as winners of TOP SAFETY PICK, IIHS' award for state-of-the-art crash protection. GM's plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt and the Nissan's all-electric Leaf clearly save on fuel , but the size and weight of their battery packs add significant crash protection as well. The strong marks for front, side and rear crash protection also indicate automakers are using the same safety engineering in electric cars as they do in traditional gas-powered vehicles.

The Volt and Leaf are classified as small cars in terms of their overall length, width, and carrying capacity; however, their hefty battery packs put their curb weights closer to midsize and larger cars.  "The Leaf and Volt's extra mass gives them a safety advantage over other small cars," said Joe Nolan, chief administrative officer for IIHS, on April 26.  "What powers the wheels is different, but the level of safety for the Volt and Leaf is as high as any of our other top crash test performers," Nolan said.

The addition of the 2 electric cars brings to 80 the number of award winners so far for 2011, including 7 hybrid models. That lifts GMs’ current model tally to 12 and Nissan’s to 3.

GM and other manufacturers have lagged Toyota and other Asian manufacturers in developing fuel-saving gasoline/electric hybrids, which account for only a fraction of the U.S. sales market.

They hope their plug-in variants will better compete and catch on with those consumers demanding improved mileage performance in their daily commutes, especially with pump prices steadily rising and averaging $3.88 a gallon nationally. Gas in some areas already exceeds $4.

The Volt and the Leaf are classified as small cars but their battery packs raise their weight closer to mid-size and larger ones.

The Leaf weighs 3,370 pounds while the Volt is about 3,760 pounds. Most midsize cars are in the range of 3,200 pounds and the Chevy Impala, a large family car, 3,500 pounds. Heavier cars generally do a better job of protecting people in crashes but do less well on fuel savings.

The findings also contrasted with a lackluster Volt endorsement earlier this year from Consumer Reports on efficiency. David Champion, director of Consumer Reports auto test center told Reuters in February that the Volt was fun to drive but did not make sense financially to operate. He said consumers seeking value and top fuel efficiency would be better off buying a top-performing hybrid like Toyota's Prius or a Fusion by Ford Motor Corp. GM responded at the time that the review was hasty.

Applications Due August 31st

You can help your local secondary and/or post-secondary collision program receive a $50,000 Makeover through the Collision Repair Education Foundation's 2011 Ultimate Collision Education Makeover school grant. The application is available to download online and must be postmarked by August 31, 2011.

The winning school will be announced during SEMA 2011. Instructors are advised to begin the application early due to the required application information. Important Notes Regardless if your local school/college's auto body program wins the $50,000 Makeover grant, those schools that apply for the 2011 Makeover grant are the initial schools that the Foundation goes to when it receives in-kind product and monetary donations throughout the year.

In 2009, the non-winning Makeover grant applicant schools received close to $200,000 in product donation. Yes, the non-winners! Through the Makeover's application, the schools must list an itemized $50,000 wish list and through these lists, the Foundation can seek out industry supporters to donate these requested items for the schools.

Over 50 schools from across the country applied for the 2010 Makeover grant. The Ultimate Collision Education Makeover grant debuted in 2009 when Steel Center Area Vocational Technical School (Jefferson Hills, PA) was chosen as the recipient of the award. In addition to Steel Center AVTS receiving $80,000 from the award, the schools that applied for the 2009 grant still benefited from the Ultimate Collision Education Makeover program.

In total, the 35 schools each received an average of $5,000 in products, supplies, and equipment for a total value over $175,000. Every school that applied for the grant received at least one item to benefit their students and collision program.

In 2010, the award went to Bridgerland Applied Technology College (Logan, UT). The 2010 applicants have already had the opportunity to receive items from Airgas, Fibre-Glass Evercoat, Sherwin-Williams, UltraWiz, as well as Cintas technician shirts.

With the generous support from the industry, the Education Foundation is looking to at least double the total support from 2009 to 2010 for schools that applied for the grant. The Ultimate Collision Education Makeover school grant and other collision student and school support opportunities provided by the Collision Repair Education Foundation are made possible through industry donations. If you are interested in getting involved with the Foundation and joining its efforts to support the future of the collision industry, please contact Foundation Associate Director of Development, Brandon Eckenrode at 847.463.5244.

Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes  A-Plus™ Network is now affiliated with VehicleOwnersGuide.com, an online provider of powerful blueprint documents that helps collision repair shops identify any missed revenues. Its unique estimating analysis tool, EstimateScrubber.com, can be used in the repair planning process to prompt estimators to include commonly omitted items and better identify the repair cost associated with estimate line entries.

EstimateScrubber.com is compatible with most estimating systems used by the leading  insurance companies and allows it to print a PDF file of an UltraMate®, Pathways® or Audatex® estimate.  When this estimate printout is uploaded to EstimateScrubber.com the A-Plus Network member shop will receive a free, detailed P-Page analysis.