Texting while driving, by Flickr user ericathompsonEnlarge Photo
While 35 states currently ban texting by all drivers while driving, more than four of five young drivers admit to reading a text message while driving.
That’s according to a survey conducted by the Ad Council, which just launched a national public service campaign of TV, radio, billboards, online banner ads and new social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to help stop the unsafe practice. The campaign is supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the State Attorneys General.
Talking about the campaign, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “Putting away cell phones and other distractions while you are driving is not just commonsense safety behavior, it can save your life.”
Attorney General Rob McKenna, 2012 President of the National Association of Attorneys General said, “Every second matters when you’re behind the wheel…No text, Tweet or Facebook update is worth your life.”
The PSAs direct audiences to stoptextsstopwrecks.org to find facts about the impact of texting while driving and tips on how to curb the behavior. Check out the video below from the site.
Texting while drivingEnlarge Photo
NHTSA survey on distracted driving
Supporting the need for increased public awareness are the results of NHTSA’s first national telephone survey on distracted driving conducted in 2010, which showed that 18 percent of drivers said they’ve texted while driving. Among drivers aged 21 to 24, half admitted to texting behind the wheel.
Other results of the telephone survey include:
The full NHTSA Distracted Driving Survey is available here.
Pilot enforcement campaigns paved the way
Getting the message to drivers that texting while driving is a practice that needs to stop does seem to pay off. In two pilot campaigns conducted in 2010 by the NHTSA in Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York, the combination of beefed-up enforcement efforts and increased public service announcements (PSAs) showed results.
Over the course of a year and four enforcement waves, handheld cell phone use and texting behind the wheel declined by one-third in Syracuse, while in Hartford during the same period, driver handheld cell phone use dropped by 57 percent and texting declined by nearly three-quarters. The full NHTSA report of the four high-visibility enforcement waves is available here.
Bottom line: High-visibility enforcement and stepped-up awareness campaigns may finally bring the message home about not texting while driving. But it will be an uphill battle, nonetheless. Ingrained habits are hard to change, but they can change over time.