Deter Distraction

Texting and Driving Banner

We know it’s dangerous. But we still do it — talk, text and read while on the road. Here are a few ways to curb ourselves, safely.

Lock your device in the glove compartment. Why fight temptation?

Make a statement. Avoid responding to incoming calls or messages; let them go to voice mail while driving.

Record an outgoing cell message: “I’m driving now and can’t answer. Please hang up if you’re driving or leave a message if you’re not.”

Don’t talk to risky drivers. Ask callers if they are driving. Say: “Please call back later.” Hang up. Text messages are tricky: If they are obviously sent from the road, ignore them and (later) tell that driver to stop. Social disapproval is a good way to encourage others not to text while driving.

Pull over. If you must talk, or must use a device that requires your visual attention, pull off the road. If you’re on the highway and must place a call or send a text message, or look at something inside the car for more than a couple of seconds, get off at the nearest exit. Weigh the risk of not calling (or doing the task) versus the risk of losing control and endangering others on the road or in your car.

Never, ever, text while driving, period.

Curb your teen’s temptation. Younger, less experienced drivers already have the highest crash rates, yet they are more likely to carry mobile devices into the car and send texts from them. They often receive their devices as gifts. If they have a device, discuss their use the way you would any other critical safety issue. Set limits and be a model of responsible driving. Here’s why it’s more difficult for them to pay attention at that age.

Rachel Adelson writes about technology and the science of behavior from her office near Toronto. Within an hour of finishing this story, she found herself driving behind someone putting on mascara at the wheel.

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