There seems to be something automatic about responding immediately when a text comes in. Maybe it’s because a text is just part of a conversation. But whatever that reflex is, it needs an override when we’re driving – an override either in the software between our ears or some “I’m not available right now” software in our phones. AT&T has an app for that called “DriveMode” that sends a text back saying its owner is driving. As for the override in our heads, it needs to be: “I’m driving, the text can wait.” So AT&T today launched a campaign all about that at ItCanWait.com. Texters can take a pledge never to text while driving (TWD), and there’s a digital activation kit with all kinds of information and resources downloadable here. According to Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute, people who are texting while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash than drivers who aren’t texting. AT&T is aiming this pledge campaign at teens because, on average, they text five times more a day than adults do, it says in the site. And last month the Washington Post cited federal research finding that drivers under age 25 are much more likely to TWD than older drivers.
“The good news in a report … by State Farm Insurance was a greater awareness among teenagers of the risk posed by using mobile devices to text or talk while driving.” According to that study, 80% of teens said they’d scolded a driver for texting. Awareness of the danger is a huge step – it’s what got the American public to get past understanding the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) to being really good about having a designated driver when out for the evening. So the next step, as pointed out in the State Farm campaign, is to get from TWD to having a designated texter.