Sunday, December 20, 2009

Killer app! Texting while driving

Yvonne Abraham's column in today's Boston Globe is a great reminder. An excerpt:

A lot of us are otherwise pretty sensible - even risk-averse - people. So what happens to us when we get behind the wheel?

I put that question to Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University, and the author of a book called “Predictably Irrational.’’ Last semester, he asked the 200 students in his class if they ever texted while driving. All but three raised their hands - and one of those three is blind.

But this is an even better one. It is a public service announcement to being shown in the UK to schoolkids. Warning: It is VERY graphic.

Please show it to your kids. Please watch it yourself.

Now, try this out. Look in your rear view mirror during an average commute and see how many people driving behind you are texting. You might be surprised.

10 comments:

fairhaven said...

It's good to see it still making the Internet rounds.

The original is a full 30 minute video with an equally chilling display of the aftermaths for the other cars, family, and friends. There are various snippets and a 10-min excerpt on Youtube.

Credit belongs to the Gwent police force in Wales. They use the full version in high schools, despite the film board rating it as restricted to 18+.

e-Patient Dave said...

Transparency time. I'm an unwitting offender, and I'm asking why a survival-oriented person like me would do it.

I wouldn't even THINK about texting someone while driving, then I discover I've not been paying full attention to the road. Why?

The video shows kids truly texting: SMS / TXT back and forth. But *any* reading is lethal - including "just checking email."

Most of us believe we'd never THINK of typing while driving. But at stoplights, or stopped in traffic jams, I do pull out the Blackberry to "just check email." (I did the same with TXT msgs before I had the BBY.)

I just scan the email headers for "anything important that I can handle while stopped."

But it's a classic slippery slope: One day something does pop up that grabs the attention (that's what I was checking for, right??), and instead of scanning headers, I open it and start reading.

Then one day the light changes, while I'm reading.

Somehow it just tricks us - bit by bit we go from "I wouldn't THINK of that" to reading and thinking while not stopped.

So let's find a new term. "Texting" is insufficient but it's short and catchy, and in memes that's important. (Consider how fast "sexting" caught on, as a memorable extension of texting.)

The simple advice "Put It Away!" or "Hang Up and Drive!" is the solution but it clearly doesn't change behavior: we need a better self-awareness meme.

Maybe we ask reporters to start saying "texting, including email."

Dunno.

And now I get to subject myself to grilling a few days from now: "Hey Dave, have you actually 100% stopped?" Do grill me: it IS self-awareness quicksand. I'm offering myself up as a specimen, even though it's embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

Yes Dave, I tried that red light stuff with the texting (I have no crackberry, thank heaven.) One episode of nearly running off the road trying to complete it when the light turned green, plus having to explain myself to a teenaged kid to whom I had preached, cured me permanently!

nonlocal

Anonymous said...

Paul, Please put something on your post to warn people about how graphic this video is...I just started watching it with my daughter, not having any idea that it would be so disturbing and she is very shaken up now...even though I took the computer out to the room as soon as I realized how violent the film was. I think this is a very important and serious public health issue, and I'm glad you're writing about it (and it's a very effective PSA but please warn people before they just watch it...

Nancy Turnbull

Paul Levy said...

Thanks, Nancy, I have put in the warning. That being said, it is almost equivalent to what kids regularly watch on the TV crime shows and in the movies . . . .

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for putting up the warning, Paul. BTW, not all kids (or their parents) watch TV crime shows or violent movies. I don't and neither does my kid. Too scary for us. But if we did, at least we'd know what we were choosing to watch. Nancy

Anonymous said...

Ooh, too graphic. It's a fine line between making an important, life-saving point and the turn-off that can happen with way-over-the-line. Texting was just made illegal in RI, but the police are hesitant about enforcement, because you can't tell if someone is plugging in a phone number or hitting a code....no arrests yet that I know of. I have been amazed at where my car goes the very rare times I have texted...so frightening....zero tolerance for me, now.

Paul Levy said...

I disagree. Consider the audience. teenagers who watch all kinds of stuff on line and in the movies. Softer would not get their attention.

John Rob said...

Accidents are caused by lack of concentration. I do not worry about my daughter texting while driving. The mobile application of http://www.drivesafe.ly/ responds to text messages she need not look at the mobile.

Anonymous said...

You are right John…… !! i installed this application http://drivesafe.ly/ and i have been actually driving in peace…… reads my messages to me and i concentrate on driving.