As a business owner, you play a key role in your community. You’ve probably become friends with many longtime customers and colleagues. You may even know their birthdays, their pets’ names, and how their children are doing in school. On a local level, you might be active in civic groups and events.

You have influence in your community that few others have—and this influence could help save lives. At AT&T, we are asking all business owners to take the It Can Wait® pledge to never text and drive and to spread the word to your family, friends, employees, and others around you.

Take a stand

Think about other ways behavior has been changed over the years. You might remember the commercials back in the ’80s urging people to wear their seatbelts. In 1983, only 14 percent of us buckled up compared with 86 percent today, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. The commercials and laws certainly played a role, but so did the influence of our family, friends, and peers. I expect we’ll see a similar trend with texting and driving, and that it won’t take nearly as long.

We’re already making progress. More than 1.2 million people signed the pledge after the 2012 It Can Wait campaign, and one in three said the texting-and-driving message has affected their driving habits. But there’s still more work to be done. A 2013 AT&T Commuter Survey found nearly half of commuters and 43 percent of teens still text while driving.

How can you urge others to take a stand against texting and driving? Here are three ways:

1. Lead by example.

Don’t drive distracted. This means no texting, emailing, surfing the Web, taking pictures, or anything else that takes your focus off the road. Sign up to become an It Can Wait advocate. You can download videos, purchase bumper stickers, and find a tool you can embed in your website to help drive pledges.

2. Get your business onboard.

Urge your employees to sign the pledge. Let your customers know by putting an It Can Wait sticker in your business window. Post a message on your website and use your social networks to let others know you took the pledge. Don’t encourage the behavior, either. If you know an employee or friend is behind the wheel, wait to call or send a text. Talk to your peers and others in your community about becoming advocates.

3. Use technology.

In my last blog post, I described three mobile apps that can help improve driver safety – AT&T DriveMode® sends an “out-of-office”-style email alert; Associate PLEDGE® helps business owners restrict driver usage of their mobile devices; and SafeCell Enterprise® powered by AT&T, lets businesses monitor their employees’ driving habits. Use these apps to help keep texting out of vehicles.

Make a lasting impact

When you take the pledge, you can nominate a local K-12 school for a chance to receive an It Can Wait educational program and a $1,000 donation from AT&T. This simple action can be a powerful way to teach the next generation of drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and make a lasting contribution to your community. You and your business will also be featured in an It Can Wait video, bringing media exposure to your business.

Now’s the time to become an It Can Wait advocate. With your help, we can make the roads safer for everyone.

What are you doing to end texting and driving? Let us know in comments below.