Seeing people playing with their phones while driving these days is all it takes for the cranky old man not all that deep inside of me to make an unschedule appearance. It annoys me to no end when people, phone to ear or fingers to touchscreen, focus on the the chirping little object in their hands rather than the road.
I wasn’t always like this, I’ve been guilty of firing up my phone and catching up with family while on my commute home from work back in the day, but the more I saw this behavior causing havoc on the roads I decided to stop. After becoming a father my disdain for this behavior only became more intense.
In my suburban assault vehicle I do have my phone synced to my car stereo, but I only answer my phone if it is absolutely necessary and I only return text messages I may receive while in transit after I’ve reached my destination. Quite honestly, I don’t know how people can text and drive. I can barely type on my iPhone without the assistance of dozens of autocorrects while sitting on my couch, never mind while navigating a two ton vehicle at highway speeds.
This is why when AT&T approached me about spreading the word on their “It Can Wait” campaign, I was more than happy to do so. Sure, my kids are still quite young (four and almost two), but that doesn’t mean texting while driving doesn’t concern me.
First, there is the matter of keeping my kids safe now. The last thing I’m interested in is having a distracted driver who is more concerned about arguing with a friend over who should have won American Idol plow into my van and potentially hurt my children. Second, there is the fact that while they may be young, they are ridiculously tech savvy. My four year old son can operate an iPhone or iPad with the best of them. He has his own folders on my device with apps just for him and loves to run around the house taking pictures; he truly is the Ansel Adams of the Instagram age.
Finally, there is the example I set as a parent. If they see me texting or navigating apps on my smartphone while driving, the chances of me deterring them later in life when they are behind the wheel of their own vehicles are slim and none. I say this acknowledging that it is entirely likely that when they are old enough to drive both Twitter and Facebook will have gone the way of MySpace and whatever mobile technologies that exist are controlled telepathically.
Still, with Memorial Day approaching we are heading into the “100 deadliest days” for teen drivers on the road. A recent survey of 1,200 teens revealed that while 97 percent of teens know texting while driving is dangerous, 43 percent of them admit to sending a text while driving – and 75 percent say the practice is common among their friends. Additionally, 77 percent of teens say adults warn against risks, but text & drive ‘all the time.’
Through the “It Can Wait” campaign AT&T has shared some even more sobering statistics. Overall 75% of teens text and texting ranks as the number one mode of communication with an average of 3,417 text messages exchanged per teen per month in the third quarter of 2011. Considering that one text can take your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds it is difficult to not think how dangerous this all can be. A lot of damage can be done in a split second, let alone five.
If these statistics concern you, then I encourage you to join me in taking the pledge and let it be known that “It Can Wait”. Additionally, there is the AT&T DriveMode application that you can install on your smartphone. This app will automatically send a reply to any text message you receive informing the sender that you are driving, very much like an “out of office” reply to your email.
Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way by AT&T or any of its representatives in exchange for writing this post. I chose to share this information because the issue is important to me.Pin It