Today marked the launch of a collaborative effort by the major smartphone companies—AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint Nextel—along with about 200 other companies to broadcast radio, television, online and in-store ads warning about the dangers of texting and driving. The campaign, which will last through Labor Day, grew out of AT&T’s original It Can Wait campaign. You probably remember the commercials—the young man who crashed his car and is permanently brain damaged as a result; the girl whose sister died when reading a text from her.
In theory, this campaign is a great idea, and I applaud the smartphone companies for spending the money to draw attention to the issue. Unfortunately, it feels a lot like watching a Captain Morgan’s or Disarrono commercial—love our product, enjoy our brand, but please drink responsibly. The cell phone companies want kids (and the rest of us) to love their products, be ambassadors for their brands, but use them responsibly. The discussion should come from the companies that try to sell us their products. It needs to be more personal—I’m referring to the old “think globally, act locally” adage.
I will soon be the parent of a new driver, as will many of my friends. We all do our best to teach our children to be responsible drivers: wear a seatbelt, check your mirrors, don’t speed. I trust my daughter, and believe that she will make the right decisions, but then I read something like this Texting Teen Dies in First Drive by Herself – and it terrifies me. I’m sure the parents in that situation trusted their daughter, too, or they wouldn’t have let her drive the car in the first place.
I almost hesitated to write this post, because so much of it has already been said. However, I think it bears repeating. We all know that texting and driving is stupid, and careless, and dangerous—but it’s still happening. Too many of us are still driving with some sort of preventable distractions.
We have to continue having this conversation, frequently and loudly. This is not an issue that is going away. Talk to your kids’ principals and encourage them to make the EndDD presentations mandatory. Do the presentation yourself. Watch the EndDD video with your kids, then discuss it with them. Tell them to talk to their friends. Talk to your own friends. Talk to your co-workers. Most important, be the example for your loved ones—get rid of the distractions while you are driving.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).