Texting while driving is far too common. It’s up to us moms to do something about it. Here’s why you (or someone you love) should stop and what you can do instead.
Without fail when I’m on the road and witness bad driving, it turns out that the driver is texting. If the car ahead of me waits an inordinate amount of time once the light turns green, the driver is inevitably looking down at her phone.
And if we’re honest, we’ll admit that we, too, have looked at our phones when we should have been looking at the road.
We might not be guilty of actual texting while driving, but programming the GPS or looking for a song can be just as distracting, as innocent as they may seem.
I’ve been thinking about this for the last year or so as we’ve prepared our son to drive. I want him to come home in one piece. More and more, I’m disturbed by the number of people texting while driving.
As I’ve seen fellow moms driving down the road looking at their phones with a car full of kids, my heart skips a beat. There’s a very powerful PSA about teen drivers texting, but honestly, I see moms do it more than I see kids doing it.
We need to stop texting while driving.
It’s up to you and me to be the change. There aren’t too many things that I will get in-your-face passionate about, but this would be one of them. My life, your life, our kids’ lives depend on this.
I probably don’t need to give too many reasons why texting while driving is wrong. In fact a recent survey shows that 98% of drivers know that it’s wrong, but 3 out of 4 look at their phones anyway.
Just in case anyone needs a reminder:
1. Texting while driving is dangerous.
It’s easy to think that one is a good enough driver not to hit someone when texting while driving. I am gonna guess that the driver in this story didn’t think she would cause an accident or worse, kill someone. But she did. And the damage is irreparable.
Even if you are not the one making the unsafe maneuver, you can better avoid a collision with the bozo who is by making sure you’re aware of your surroundings. You will be a better driver with both eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel.
2. Texting while driving is illegal.
Texting while driving is banned in 46 states as well as the District of Columbia. Missouri and Texas limit the ban to novice drivers. Fines can be pretty hefty if you violate this law. Your insurance rates can go up. And, honestly, you’ll feel pretty dumb about breaking a law so simple to obey.
3. Texting while driving communicates the wrong message to our kids.
Even if our kids aren’t taking their driver’s tests anytime soon, they need to know this isn’t okay. Texting while driving needs to be understood as one big NO, something Mom won’t do herself.
How to Stop Texting While Driving
It’s clear that we as a culture need to stop texting while driving. We already know it, but why do we do it?
According to Dr. David Greenfield, a researcher and expert in digital media behavior, our brains “ping” with pleasure when we get a text or other digital news that makes us happy. In his words, here’s why folks are drawn to texting while driving:
The answer is dopamine, a neurochemical that we experience as pleasure in the midbrain. I call dopamine a “digital drug” because we get a little squirt of it every time we get positive news from a friend or loved one by text, email or social media. Our brain is conditioned to seek that positive “hit”, leading many of us to check for messages compulsively.
How do we stop this? What controls can we put in place for our own protection?
There are a number of things that we can do to break the habit of texting while driving.
1. Put it out of your reach.
Whether you turn off your phone, silence it, stuff it in your purse or the glovebox, or hand it to your children, make it really hard for you to do any texting while driving. There are also apps that will put your phone into drive mode so you won’t be distracted during your trip.
It is not weakness to put a physical control on behavior that’s not your best. The most important part is to give your full attention to driving.
2. Listen to music or an audio book.
I’ve found that I often get bored while driving and want something to fill my mind. Instead of “checking my phone”, I’ve started packing CD’s for the ride. Provided that it’s not distracting, it’s a good way to fill my mind when I’m on the road.
3. Talk to your passengers.
Most of us moms often, if not always, have little passengers in the car with us. A car ride is a great time to talk about things, tell stories and jokes, and otherwise catch up. Let’s not let the draw of a text pull us away from our most important peeps — in the car or out.
4. Help your spouse, friends, and driving children break the habit.
I’m guessing you probably wouldn’t let your husband, friends, or children drive while drinking a beer. You’d speak up and take the wheel. Don’t be afraid to take the phone if your driver isn’t giving his or her full attention to the task at hand.
There are not too many things that I feel we have absolute control of, but our own behavior while driving is one of them. We hold great sway with our spouses and children as well. Texting while driving is so rampant in our culture, but we have the power to change that.
How do YOU prevent yourself from texting while driving?
PS. Just in case you were worried, please be assured that I was not driving when these photos were taken. 😉