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Distracted Driving: Take the Pledge to Drive Cell Free #GiveBackMyDrive

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blog disclosure for distracted driving

Avoid Distracted Driving + Take The Pledge To Drive Cell Free

Do you have a teen that drives? My niece just turned 15 and recently got her drivers permit. And that scares me. Not because she is not a good driver, but because she, like all other kids (and many adults), are practically addicted to their cell phones. As parents we can all talk to our children about the dangers of texting and talking while driving, but really getting that advice to sink in and be heeded is the problem. Especially if you are modeling the exact opposite! With April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, I want to share with you an initiative that I stand behind 100% and that I am asking you – and your family – to take part in as well: #TakeBackMyDrive.

distracted driving take back my drive pledge initiative image 1We all know that cell phone-related car crashes are a problem, but we just don’t know how big the problem really is. The NSC reports that an estimated 1.6 million crashes each year are caused by cell phone use while driving – and that statistic continues to climb. In fact, the real number is probably a lot higher, but there is no testing standard like a breathalyzer for us to be able to know for sure. The #TakeBackMyDrive initiative asks that you take the pledge to drive cell free:

I pledge to Take Back My Drive for my own safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose to not drive distracted in any way – I will not:

  • Have a phone conversation – handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
  • Text or send Snapchats
  • Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
  • Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media
  • Check or send emails
  • Take selfies or film videos
  • Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
  • Call or message someone else when I know they are driving

It’s a simple pledge that takes seconds to make, but it is also a pledge that can save somebody’s life – perhaps even your own.

distracted driving take back my drive pledge initiative image2

I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and tell you that I’ve never texted, checked directions or talked on my phone while driving. Because I have. And it was foolish. And selfish. But one day, while riding with my husband on I-65 through Birmingham, I happened to look over at a motorcyclist in the next lane. I kid you not, that guy was texting while riding a motorcycle! That blew my mind, and it also made me start really observing the other drivers around me. Over the next several days, I saw literally hundreds of drivers taking their eyes off the road in order to dial, read, scroll, text, talk, and all sorts of other distracted driving behaviors. And though it may seem like just a split second to the person doing it, in reality your eyes are off the road for a lot longer than you think.  More than enough time to take the life of another person. Absorbing that knowledge, along with hearing daily news reports of fatal accidents due to phone usage while driving, and I made the decision that I was not going to be one of those people any longer.

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But one thing I did continue to do is to use my phone hands-free. After all, I can keep my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road while talking hands-free. And I can use my voice to instruct the car to call whomever I need! Right? Well part of the Take Back My Drive pledge is to not even do that. In fact, research is showing that voice-activated technologies can be distracting as well, meaning they are not a safe alternative to using a cell phone while driving. So in order to be true to the pledge I’d taken, I stopped that as well. And let me tell what I have noticed over this past week. Even using my phone hands free causes me to be a distracted driver. It’s true! First of all I still have to glance down to ensure I am pushing the correct button to activate hands-free calling. Plus, it’s a habit to look down at the phone (or the display on the radio) to make sure the phone number being dialed is correct. And both of those actions take my eyes off the road. And when I am talking to someone, my attention is not 100% focused on driving. Nope, I’ve noticed that I am more focused on what I am hearing and saying than I am my driving. So even though my hands are on the wheel and my eyes are on the road, all of my attention is not on my driving and the driving of those around me. And that is all it takes to cause an accident. 

I do not want to be the cause of an accident, and I sure don’t want to be the cause of someone losing a loved one. And I am sure you don’t either. So I ask you, join me in taking the Take Back My Drive pledge and help reduce the number of distracted drivers on the roads. It literally takes no time at all to fill it out the pledge and hit submit. It’s few seconds that can make all of the difference in the world to you, your family and other’s families. Then after you take the pledge, spend a few minutes with your family, especially your children, and talk to them about the importance of cell phone free and distraction-free driving. You can learn more about the National Safety Council’s initiative and find all sorts of materials to share with family and friends on the website.

Other Types of Distracted Driving

Texting, talking or using your phone is not the only distracted driving behavior. Eating and drinking, inputting information into your GPS, adjusting the stereo, putting on make up or brushing your hair, running late, not getting enough sleep, and even not being familiar with your car’s controls all are things that count as distracted driving. And all of these are things that can easily be stopped. Avoid going through the drive thru, or if you are really hungry and do not have the time to go in, eat in the car while you are parked in a parking space. Program your route and set up your music play list before putting the car into drive. Give yourself extra time to get wherever you are going so you are not rushed and worried about getting there on time. Get plenty of sleep, do your make up and other grooming at home or while you are still parked.

distracted driving take back my drive pledge initiative five tips

Five Tips for Avoiding Texting and Talking While Driving

  1. Make it a habit to turn off your phone, silence it, or even put it in the glove box as soon as you get into your car. Whichever way you choose to “hide” your phone, it being “out of sight and out of mind” will automatically make you more focused on driving.
  2. If you text or talk frequently, notify your counterpart(s) that you will be driving and not to text or phone you. After all, we lived without cell phones and texting before, and the world didn’t end. We can do it again for however long we are in the car.
  3. Come up with a family “code” so if you are driving but a family member needs to talk to you urgently, you will know it is them calling. For example, three rings, hang up, wait 1 minute and call again. Repeat once to allow time to pull over safely.
  4. Consider an app. Yep, there really are apps for everything including ones that discourage and prevent one from texting while driving. Others will notify a caller or texter that you are driving and can not respond at the moment. These are great for teens that love to text, although they do not address the talking while driving aspect of distracted driving. 
  5. Be a role model to your kids. You can talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving all you want, but if you do it yourself, then your words don’t mean much. Remember, our children watch what we do and learn from our actions.

Get social with the NSC: Twitter #TakeBackMyDrive

What are some of the ways you avoid distracted driving?

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