Rattling off statistics won’t change how you drive. Often times, even knowing someone that has been impacted by distracted driving doesn’t have the clout to cause a change in behavior. The truth of it is that adults are just as much part of the problem as the solution. Adults, parents, are actually more likely to text and drive. That’s right. In a recent poll, 49% of adults admitted to texting and driving while only 43% of teens claimed they did the same.
As parents and adults, we want the best for our kids. We want them to be safe. We rarely take into account that our kids learn by imitation. They see us glancing at our phones, texting at stop lights and sending a quick message while driving down the freeway.
When we take our program to high schools, the parents are often the most stand-offish about signing pledges not to text and drive. They’ll put their kids into the line. You know, for their best interest.
While motor vehicle deaths from alcohol-related accidents are on the decline, fatalities from distracted driving are on a steady rise. Texting while driving is the equivalent of driving after drinking 4 beers and drivers are 6 times more likely to cause an accident than if they were intoxicated.
There’s a tipping point. For example, when bicycle riding became widely popular in the 70’s there was not much concern for safety gear. It wasn’t until the mid 80’s that The American National Standards Institute introduced standards for bike helmets. It took thousands of deaths to bring attention to the need for further safety measures.
Texting while driving is against the law in Washington State. Yet, texting while driving accounts for more teen fatalities in auto related deaths than any other cause. At a certain point, bicycle riding without a helmet became so widely accepted as dangerous that standards were created and now even laws have been passed to keep bicyclists safe. The tipping point was mass awareness.
Riding a bike without a helmet seems silly. Who would do such a thing? We wouldn’t send our children out without proper safety gear and we would insist on it for every occasion of bicycle usage. Texting and driving cause far more deaths of our youth than bicycle head injuries and the numbers are climbing. As adults, we have the power to make commitments to lead by example and to advocate for safer driving practices for our teens.
You wouldn’t tell your child to wear a helmet while bike riding and not put one on your own head as well. It’s time to level up our commitment and pledge to be the first step in eliminating distracted driving.
It’s time we make the pledge ourselves. We pledge to take responsibility for our own distracted driving, own up to it and get the impact on our kids and our communities. It’s time to step up as parents and community members and own our responsibility to keep our kids safe and to educate them on the impact of distracted driving. It’s time to pledge to make a difference and set an example.
We have reached over 15,000 students in the greater Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area over the past 6 years. A few months ago, a community, that centers around this small school in the middle of a wheat field, decided that too many people are being impacted by this trend and decided to raise some awareness, in one night they reached another 230 people.
The first step to solving any problem is helping people realize there is a problem and that’s what we are doing with our events. By bringing it home to both students and parents, we hope to highlight the reality of the issue. Awareness and acknowledgment are key and only by communicating the full impact, and acknowledging that it’s more than just kids doing it, can we take the next step to action and hopefully eradication.