Isn’t it frustrating how often knowing better doesn’t make one do better?
For example, I will feel sick if I eat that ice cream instead of dinner at 4pm. I know better. But to avoid it, I have to keep the sweet stuff out of sight.
So why is my phone still sitting beside me on the passenger seat when I drive, where the temptation to read text alerts (or worse, reply) is so strong?
Whereas the one might result in a ruined appetite and feeling of guilt, the other is a potentially deadly habit.
In fact, just this month, the New England Journal of Medicine released a new study saying that dialing a cellphone is the most dangerous thing you can do in a car: it increases your risk of crashing or nearly crashing eight-fold.* And a lot can happen in just the moment you look at your phone.
AT&T reached out to get me involved in their “It Can Wait” Campaign, aimed at reducing the incidence of texting and driving. And they’ve introduced me to DriveMode, their free, no-texting-while driving app that’s available on Android and, now, iOS.
I’ve been using it all week, and here’s how it works…
You can turn it on manually, or you can set it to turn on automatically whenever you drive 15mph or more (it turns off shortly after you stop). While activated, it silences incoming text message alerts and then automatically responds to incoming text messages to let whoever is trying to reach you know you’re driving. (It also allows parents with young drivers to receive a text message if the app is turned off. No getting sneaky!)
You can customize the message. The #X in this example means “I’m pausing this texting conversation before I drive.” In fact, they’re encouraging adoption of #X as a new social shorthand. Whether you use it in social media, text or email, it lets others know you’re pausing the conversation before you drive.
Do you reply to texts while driving? Do you look at your phone when you get an alert?
Take the pledge to stop texting and driving—and encourage others to do so as well—on itcanwait.com. Put the phone away and know that anyone trying to reach you will get the message; they’ll understand.
I know I’ve got at least three good reasons why it can wait, and they’re in that photo up top.
P.S. Last year, filmmaker Warner Herzog participated in the campaign by making the most sobering documentary about texting while driving (and that’s the right word to use, because More teens now die from texting while driving than from drinking and driving.)
*NEJM study via The Atlantic
Disclosure: While I was not compensated for my participation, I was gifted an iPhone to use with the DriveMode application. Thank you to AT&T for the opportunity to help spread the word. #ItCanWait