We’ve all heard about the dangers of texting and driving, and although many of us think that teens are the most distracted drivers among us, think again. Think way back to this morning, when you were driving to school, taking that early morning work call, sneaking a peek on your cell phone in the cup holder at that text that just came in, searching for the pencil that little Suzie dropped under the seat, sipping on your coffee, listening to the morning news on the radio, harping at your son for forgetting his lunchbox…all while driving. Scary stuff!
Despite raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving — even by high-profile personalities such as Oprah — we are still not getting the message. Texting and driving tops the list, but dialing phone numbers, eating, reading and more are also to blame. In 2008, nearly 6,000 people were killed in completely avoidable accidents that involved a distracted driver, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. We’ve become even more distracted in the few years since.
Take some extra time to figure out what changes you and your family can make to help save a life. Try these tips:
The easiest thing we can do is never text or dial while driving and model this behavior to our youngsters (monkey see, monkey do). If you have teens who are already text-reliant, look into technology to help avoid temptation. Avoid allowing your youngsters to distract you while driving by starting early to teach them that Mommy can’t help (or look or reach) right now because she needs to keep her eyes safely on the road.
A new app on Android phones (coming soon to iPhone, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices) called Otter allows parents to log in remotely to their teen’s cell phone and turn on the app’s GPS mode to “silence all primary text notifications [while the teen is in a moving car] and auto-reply with an anti-texting and driving message,” the developer says. Otter was developed by a father whose 3-year-old daughter was nearly run down by a texting driver. According to Otter, a texting driver is 2,300 percent more likely to be involved in a serious crash than a non-texting driver.
If you or your teen is in a car with a child, sibling or friends, choose a designated texter — someone in the car whose job is to reply to any time-sensitive or social texts so the driver can stay focused on the road. Even my 7-year-old loves being honored as the designated texter, letting Daddy know we’re stopping at the grocery store before heading home.
Talk to your family tonight at the dinner table about other ideas that you can implement to be a part of the solution to dangerous distracted driving, rather than the problem.
Guest blogger Kristin Varela is the Chief Mom at MotherProof.com, a website dedicated to providing women and mothers in particular with useful and entertaining new-car reviews that are straightforward and casual, written by the Mother Proof mom-reviewers from one woman to another.