It is believed that 11 teen drivers die every day because they are texting while driving. According to AAA, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge that they know the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% of them still do it anyway. Adults are doing it too. 27% of adults have sent or received text messages while driving and 15% of young drivers have seen parents text while driving.
Most people have phones that allow for texting today. The number of people with access to a cell phone while driving is only going to increase. That means now is the time to implement solutions to texting and driving that are easy and effective to implement for all drivers. Here are some ways that we could get started.
1. Don’t take your phone with you.
Although it may not be feasible if you have an emergency, the easiest way to avoid texting and driving is to not have a phone with you that is capable of such an action. If you must take a phone with you, then store it in your glove box, in the trunk, or some other area that is difficult for the driver to access. That way you force yourself to pull off the road to access the text message.
2. Use the hashtag #X when texting.
This indicates to the recipient that it is time to stop texting for some time. This is a signal that lets people know you’re either driving or about to start driving. You can use other terminology or hashtags if you prefer. Just let your circle of family and friends know what this signal means so they’ll respect it.
3. Let someone else text.
If you’re driving and have a passenger, then let them be in charge of your phone. That way, if you get a text, they can respond to it if necessary. You can focus on keeping your eyes on the road. In the 5 seconds it takes to read a text or respond to one, the average driver will have driven the length of three football fields and spent 10% of their time outside of their lane. That’s why having a passenger text for you is a simple and easy solution.
4. Turn off your phone.
If your phone isn’t on, then it won’t notify you of messages. This just means you must have the discipline necessary to keep the phone turned off. You may also wish to put your phone on a Do Not Disturb setting while you are driving. Then set the phone down somewhere that doesn’t allow you to look at the screen so you can focus on driving instead of who may or may not be sending you a text.
5. Turn on certain vehicle-based features.
Some vehicles today allow you to have your cell number routed directly into the dashboard interface. This will convert incoming texts to voice so that you can hear what has been sent. You may also be able to send a voice text. This feature may be disabled while driving. Use Drive Mode and other car-based features within your phone to enhance this experience as well.
6. Put an X on your thumbs.
If you struggle with the temptation to check your phone for a text, try giving yourself a visual cue. Use a permanent marker and place an X on each thumb. You’ll see this as you’re driving and it will be a reminder that you should not be texting at that moment. Other reminders that are meaningful, like a string around a finger, a hairband around the wrist, or something else that is important to you can work as well.
7. Take a pledge to stop texting and driving.
Saying that you’ll stop doing something is a very different experience than making a commitment to stop. You can sign a pledge that states you will not text and drive. By giving your word to someone, it creates an extra layer of accountability that can help you defeat the temptation of texting – even if you have a message that comes your way.
Distracted driving is never okay. Cell phones are involved in an estimated 1 of 5 fatal crashes that occurs in the United States. Even when you may be alone in your car, you are not alone in your vehicle. More than 1 million people have already pledged to stop texting when they get behind the wheel. You can join this group today by implementing these solutions to texting and driving.