Champion of DOT: How Fighting Distracted Driving Helped Me Move from Tragedy to Triumph
We kicked off the It Can Wait 16 in ‘16 Pledge Contest in October, asking AT&T employees to create a team, then generate as many pledges as possible for that team, via text. Regina Ennis, an AT&T employee in White Plains, New York was awarded the Champion of DOT (Do One Thing) for capturing the most pledges for her team, team CARE. Regina shares what winning the 16 in 16 contest and being a Champion of DOT means to her.
Distracted driving has been a problem, even before everyone had a cell phone. In the early 1980s, I remember seeing people on my morning commute doing things like reading the newspaper, shaving, or putting on make-up as they were behind the wheel. These habits and behaviors always perplexed me.
I joined AT&T’s technology, planning and engineering (TP&E) mobility team in 2010. As I began to see more and more people using smartphones to capture special moments, communicate and get information, I felt a great sense of pride knowing I was part of a team that made this possible. But I also observed people using their smartphones not-so-smartly, especially while driving.
My colleagues and I were working hard to build amazing mobile technology, but seeing others using it unsafely was very troubling. That’s why when I took the IT CAN WAIT® pledge a few years ago, it was more than just participating in a company-sponsored activity. I pledged to my colleagues, my friends, my family and myself to not engage in the risky behavior of distracted driving.
Starting this September, I had the chance to share the It Can Wait pledge with more people than I ever imagined, thanks to AT&T’s Do One Thing (DOT) initiative – which invites employees to take a simple, measurable action to benefit the world around them. Called the 16 in ‘16 Pledge Contest, employees created their own team, and then generated as many pledges as possible for that team, via text. I launched Team CARE. CARE is an acronym that combines my husband’s initials and mine. CARE is my way of honoring my husband’s memory and to purposefully pay forward all the love, support and encouragement I’ve received over the years.
In his honor, I joined the contest and tried to get as many of our family members, friends, colleagues and neighbors to take the It Can Wait pledge. I was thrilled to learn we secured 399 pledges and won 1st place among AT&T employee teams! As the employee winner and Champion of DOT, I was able to choose a charity of my choice – the Mark Wandall Foundation – to receive a $2,500 contribution from AT&T.
The Mark Wandall Foundation is a great organization that provides safe driving programs and support to grieving children who have lost a parent or guardian due to a traffic accident. I had the opportunity to meet its founder, Melissa Wandall, through my participation in the Modern Widows Club, an organization that helps widows lean into life, build resilience and make a positive difference in society. Melissa has inspired me by the way she has moved from tragedy to triumph, and her support is one of the reasons why I created team CARE.
I’m proud to support the Mark Wandall Foundation and thrilled to learn that my fellow AT&T employees inspired more than 2,400 people to take the It Can Wait pledge as part of the 16 in 16 campaign. I’m confident that together, we can make distracted driving an issue of the past — and encourage more people to use the transformative power of mobile technology, responsibly.