With mobile phones being more and more involved part of our lives, it can be difficult to separate ourselves from them. When you are driving though, there is nothing so pressing that requires you to have your eyes on your mobile phone instead of on the road. It can wait.
We’ve joining AT&T this year to share the importance of staying focused and not being a distracted driver. For several years now, AT&T has lead the charge along with other companies and law enforcement departments, have been getting out the message that distracted driving is not worth anybody’s life. And now we are joining that message too.
September 19th is Pledge Day, where we and others, pledge to not just stop our own distracted driving, but also to speak up as a passenger and put the pressure on our friends and family to put the phone down. It can wait. Take the pledge along with more than 38 million others!
What you'll find...
What is distracted driving?
Today you hear the term distracted driving almost constantly on the news or radio. Where we live in Washington there are even billboards reminding you to stay focused or even warning you that there are distracted driving patrols on at the moment in that area. But what is distracted driving?
Distracted driving is when somebody is operating a vehicle and instead of being focused on the road and safely navigating. They are looking at their phone or dealing with objects all around them. Distracted driving can be any number of things that take your focus off of driving safely. And all of those things can wait.
Different types of distracted driving
I’ll be the first to admit that being a traveler and taking road trips often, there are times when I have grabbed my phone to snap pictures while I was driving instead of pulling over. I’ve gotten so much better at NOT driving and taking photos, and it’s really changed how safe I feel I’m being for my kids. I’ll also admit that it used to be so easy for me to pick up my phone and look at Instagram while I’m at a stoplight. That is also distracted driving because it only takes a split second for your foot to slip off that break or for a light to change without you realizing it.
And being a dad, I like to make eye contact with my kids when I talk. When I’m driving though, that is not the safest option and I have had to teach myself to speak more loudly and clearly without taking my eyes off the road.
Did you even realize there were so many types of distracted driving that are just second nature behavior? I’m really glad AT&T asked us to be a part of the It Can Wait campaign because it brought a lot of our bad habits two light into the front of our minds.
It can wait. Seriously.
It only takes a split second to check your phone and it only takes that same second to endanger yourself and others. 72% of adults use social media… 70% of drivers admit that their phone is an essential tool for getting around. And here’s the big thing: 83% of drivers admit to using their phone while driving.
With huge numbers like these, it’s pretty clear why we are pledging to stop our bad habits with our phones while driving and to speak up when we see others not focused on the road as well. To date, of those surveyed, 75% of people who have taken the It Can Wait pledge have stayed committed and improved their behavior.
What we do to stay focused on the road
Today, because it’s become illegal to text and drive in Washington and because we also finally have the realization of how unsafe it is, we have a whole process we go through before driving or even getting in the car.
Get kids set up properly
Before us adults get in the front seat, we always double-check on the kids to make sure they have whatever they’re going to need for the length of the trip were on or that it is within their reach. This includes water bottles, activity trays, books, or tablets if we are on a long drive.
Tip: if you’re heading out on a road trip with kids, getting tablets plugged in and fully charged while they aren’t in use is key to making sure that at no point are you a distracted driver because you’re dealing with trying to get a movie going on the highway.
Organize the front seat area
Another thing we do to make sure that we can focus on driving is we get the front seat organized. That might sound silly to call out, but if you spend a lot of time in your car it’s easy for papers or miscellaneous items to accumulate in the front seat or side door pocket. We start every drive fresh and make sure that there’s no reason something will get in our way or be a distraction.
This may all seem so simple, but I bet if the next time you get in the car you do two of the things that we just mentioned, you’ll be surprised how much easier your drive will be and that at no point will you need to compromise your family’s safety.
Photo heading to Yellowstone National Park
Tips and tricks to be safe while driving
When we think about distracted driving and managing kids in the car, it’s really incredible to consider all the opportunities to take your eyes off the road for even just a split second. These are our top tips to keep yourself in your family safe while driving.
- Put your cell phone out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Give your cell phone has Bluetooth voice commands enabled, be sure before you start driving that you have properly connected it so that should you need 2 speak to anybody, you never have to take your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.
- get your kids situated before you ever even put the car into reverse or drive. It never fails that the second we start moving one of the kids has a question or a need. Proactively think about what they might want before you start moving and get it set up within their reach.
- If you like to take pictures while you drive, break that habit now. It is better to pull over to safety then to try to get a good picture on the road and endanger your lives and those of others.
- Utilize your passengers. If you’re not driving alone, use the other passengers in the car to take care of your needs. If you need to send a text or grab something, ask for help.
Tips for speaking up as a passenger
Even though it may feel odd to confront somebody about using their phone, that momentary conversational awkwardness will pass. Here are three easy ways to speak up as a passenger:
- Be bold and blunt – state the obvious danger of using a phone while operating a vehicle
- Be polite and helpful – offer to do something for the driver so they’ll put their phone down
- Remove the distraction – just move the phone out of reach of the driver and let them know that you value everyone’s safety.
Seriously, there is nothing on your phone that is more important than yours or your family’s lives. No matter what bad habits you have formed over the years or things that you think are easy and perfectly safe, break yourself away from that thought or behavior now. Seriously, it can wait.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be considerate of others and to evaluate your own mobile phone habits in the car. Too many lives have been lost or changed forever because somebody decided they needed to send a text. Don’t be a part of that, and join us by remembering that it can wait and taking the pledge at ItCanWait.com. And speaking up for everyone’s safety, including ours.
Rob Taylor is the founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog. Focusing on ecotourism and education, 2TravelDads inspires LGBT families (and traditional families also) to go beyond their usual getaways and use travel to learn about and be part of a bigger world. “Traveling the globe and giving the kids a broad worldview.”