Even though I don’t want to admit it, here it goes… I’m Jackie and I’m a distracted driver.
It started in high school when I applied makeup in the mirror while running late for work. In college, I believed that catching up on phone calls while driving was a great way to multitask. While on road trips, I felt very confident with cruise control and my one-handed driving skills. And I’m embarrassed to admit that once while driving at night, I texted a code to a radio station and won concert tickets! Talk about positive reinforcement for a negative behavior…
These distractions came before I owned a smartphone. It’s safe to say that communications are more dangerous now. Why? Instead of voice conversations we mostly utilize typing and reading. Smartphone communications require two hands and two eyes, which should be on the steering wheel and on the road.
Although I thought I was being safe with my smartphone, I realized:
- I’ve taken photos. On my last road trip, I took a photo of my hometown interstate exit as it was approaching, just to let people know I was home.
- I’ve recorded messages. In an attempt to be safe, I record and send messages instead of texting with friends. They typically type back, which means that although I’m not typing, I’m still reading.
- I’ve over informed. Texts from “I’m leaving now” to “I’m stuck in traffic” to “I’ll be there soon” are extraneous. We set a time in advance of when to meet, why do I feel the need to constantly update?
- I’ve worked at red lights. I only look at my phone while stopped. Out of curiosity I researched this and learned that it is illegal in my state to even do that. Only hands-free usage is allowed while driving, period.
- My kids are watching. What sort of example am I setting for my children? I wouldn’t want them to do this when they get behind the wheel. This is not what driving is supposed to look like.
Dangers of Distracted Driving
Do you like facts and figures? These may blow your mind.
- More than 431,000 crashes per year are caused by distracted driving. And you know what? 100% of those were preventable.
- When driving a child in the car, only 30% of us look at our screens.
- When driving with passengers, only 36% of us look at our screens.
- When driving alone, 64% of use our smartphones. Why? Because we are alone? Don’t we deserve the same level of safety as our passengers?
Here is the thing. We are never alone on the road. There is no text, tweet or snap that is worth endangering lives.
AT&T It Can Wait 21-Day Challenge
Although I thought I was doing pretty well, writing this made me realize that there is room for improvement. I love a good challenge, don’t you? Join me in pledging with the AT&T It Can Wait 21-Day Challenge. For 21 days, I pledge to not touch my phone while behind the wheel because #ItCanWait. According to research:
- Nearly 50% of people who pledged said they now don’t use their smartphones while driving.
- Those who share their promise or pledge with others are even more likely to stop, and more likely to speak up to others.
- Of those who shared their promise or pledge with others:
- 4-in-10 asked a friend or family member to not use their smartphone while driving.
- Nearly one-third asked a driver to not use their smartphone while driving when riding as a passenger.
- Nearly 4-in-10 asked a passenger to operate their smartphone while they are driving.
This year, AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign wants to reach 16 million pledges by the end of 2016. Once you’ve taken the pledge, get the AT&T DriveMode App as a way to minimize distractions while driving to help keep eyes on the road. It’s available both for Apple and Android phones.
Together, let’s Care, Share and Be Aware.
Follow My Progress
Join me as I keep you updated on my participation with the pledge via the Army Wife 101 social channels. You, too, can pledge and include #ItCanWait in your social messages for a chance to win Google Cardboard and It Can Wait swag! Let’s make our roadways safer — we’re all in this together.
To learn more, please visit the It Can Wait website.
“This is a sponsored blog post and I was compensated by AT&T. All thoughts and opinions are my own.”
A self-described “Jackie of All Trades,” Army wife Jackie Toops is a mother of two and enjoys writing, travel, art, languages, slow cooking and peaceful parenting. She studied Interdisciplinary Humanities, Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management, and has overseen public relations for museums, galleries and universities. She is a contributing author for Wall Street International Magazine and has discussed her articles on-air with AFN Wiesbaden. She’s usually seen adventuring with her Canon, a coffee and two small children. Follow her on Twitter.
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