I am the consummate distracted driver. As someone who is always over-booking, multitasking, or just plain running late, I have found that driving is a very productive time to catch up. That’s the go-to time to call my college roommate, make dinner reservations, and/or check in with my mom.
Don’t get me started on all I could get done at a stoplight or in the drive-thru line at Starbucks.
Being constantly connected to the internet by way of my iPhone is enabling. Texts, e-mails, calendar requests, Facebook updates, Tweets, and mobile app updates all blink at me with a little red number ready for a “quick check.” This should be nothing I can’t handle while in some light traffic, right?
Ironically enough for me, I recently began working with the rest of the team at Roberts on a campaign with the Ad Council of Rochester to stop people from driving while distracted by illegal cell phone use.
More specifically—I am working on a campaign to stop me.
Behavior change through the mirror.
While behavior change is a blast to explore for most campaigns, reading research on myself only filled me with guilt. Texting and driving, not so shockingly, is very dangerous.
It is actually almost three times more dangerous than driving drunk (source: Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2009). Illegal cell phone use is the cause of hundreds of thousands of accidents annually resulting in injuries and death for many.
Distracted driving is not safe. So why do I still do it?
Distracted driving awareness
I did some digging about what is out there today to see if I could pass the buck. There’s no way people could be that aware of the dangers.
Wrong again. There are countless campaigns, efforts, videos, pledges, etc., that can be found everywhere around the nation, and the world.
Most notably, the U.S. Government has a campaign of awareness pieces, policies and more at the very robust website at distraction.gov. BMW, AT&T, AAA, among many, many others have also all put out campaigns to stop this.
A couple of personal favorites include:
- “The impossible texting & driving test” video by Responsible Young Drivers which goes to show how hard it really can be to drive while distracted.
- This national Ad Council spot that demonstrates the message simply with a line drawing animation.
Our friends at the Ad Council of Rochester even sponsored a“Put Down” Month that had nearly 500 local drivers pledge that they would not touch their cell phones while behind the wheel for the month of April.
So what now?
We get to work.
As the target audience of these efforts, including our own upcoming campaign, I am the first to say that it’s easy to make excuses. It’s not so easy to leave the phone out of reach, but I will. I can stand to be “disconnected” when I’m behind the wheel.
Besides, if there is anything that being constantly connected to the internet has taught me, it’s that 6,810 YouTube videos can’t be wrong.
TTYL … but not when I’m driving anymore.
- Distracted Driving Month: Putting Texting in a Safer Context (parkingsigns.net)
- Less distracted driving may lead to lower insurance claims (news.onlineautoinsurance.com)
- If you think you can text and drive, ask these First Coast students (jacksonville.com)