Everyone knows that texting-and-driving is a BIG no-no…one we usually associate with “teen drivers.” But surveys now show that ALL of us are offenders. Almost half of all adults admit to texting while driving in a survey by AT&T, compared with 43% of teenagers. More than 98% of adults — almost all of them — admit they know it’s wrong.
In the spirit of full disclosure…I am one of those adults. However, I am trying very hard to change that! After all the tough things I’ve had to overcome in my life…I can’t even imagine losing it all for a few words typed on a 3-inch screen.
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I don’t know if you’ve seen the “The Unseen | It Can Wait” commercial by AT&T, but if you haven’t, take :30 seconds and click on it below. It’s heart-stopping stuff.
The AT&T survey also showed that adults viewed distracted driving as less of a risk now than they did even a few years ago. This perceived reduced risk of danger coupled with the need we all seem to have to be connected all the time are contributing to a record number of accidents caused by distracted driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given moment across the U.S. 660,000 drivers are using their cellphones or other electronic devices behind the wheel. In 2013, distracted driving led to more than 3,000 deaths and 424,000 injuries in car crashes.
While those statistics are definitely disturbing and tragic, here is a statistic that SHOCKED me.
As mad as we are as a society about drunk driving….we need to start getting even MORE upset about texting and driving!
So, now that I have us all riled up (hopefully!) — what can we actually DO about this issue to make it better?
Here are some practical steps we can start taking today:
Have a plan.
Make a habit of thinking about what calls or texts you need to send before you begin your trip. Program your GPS at the outset, rather than fiddling with it during the drive, then put away the phone. Make this a routine that you remember every time you drive — just like buckling your seat belt.
Eliminate the temptation.
Put your phone out of reach — like on the floor, in the back seat, or in your trunk. Consider turning the sound off so your don’t hear that distracting “ping” and wonder who is trying to reach you. If you HAVE to stay in touch with work or home, pull over to check.
There are great apps that will silence incoming text message alerts so you can keep your eyes on the road and stay focused while driving and also send an auto-reply letting the sender know you’re behind the wheel. Download one and always turn it on. Try AT&T DriveMode (iPhone/Android)
Use “X” or #X as a signal that you’re driving.
By ending a text conversation with the letter “X” or tweeting with #X, you’ve just told your friends and family that it’s time to stop messaging and start driving. Train them to know that signal.
Assign a “designated texter.”
If you’re driving with others, borrow thumbs from a friend. Or lend yours to a friend. Passengers get the privilege of texting while in motion.
Enlist your “top five” support.
A recent survey by AT&T determined the vast majority of our communicating while driving is with just 5 contacts. Inspire others and reinforce your own good behavior by sharing your desire to not drive distracted with friends & family. 90 percent of drivers say they’d stop texting and driving if a friend asked them to. Don’t be silent.
Think of the “unthinkable” possible outcomes.
Get real and ask yourself who would be affected if you didn’t make it home safely, or all the things you wouldn’t be able to do anymore if you were seriously injured. Brutal, but smart.
As I’ve mentioned above, the numbers don’t lie — texting (and other mobile distractions) while driving represents one of the most dangerous behaviors out there among motorists. That alone is a powerful reason to stop once and for all…it’s simply the right thing to do.