Be honest: Who among us hasn’t taken our eyes off the road at one point or another while driving (or stopped at a red light) to glance at our phone? Maybe to see who’s calling, maybe to answer a text, maybe even to check a Facebook status. We’re all so accustomed to multitasking and instant gratification; many of us have even taken that habit into our cars, onto the road.
In our cars with our children, on the road with millions of other people.
According to the latest research from the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Administration in 2013, there were 3,154 people killed and about 424,000 injured in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted drivers; the biggest offenders being Millennials.
(Chart from U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Administration research)
We put other people’s lives at risk when we feel the need to get an answer to our friend right away. When we check our email to see if our co-worker responded yet. When we post a cute photo to Instagram.
I am so ashamed to say, that I have been guilty of distracted driving. How could I do this to myself? My unborn child? My daughter? My family?
It ends now. My eyes are open, and they’re focused on the road. Nothing is more important than the safety of my children’s lives. I’ve taken AT&T’s pledge to keep my drives cell phone-free. Please join me.
Temptation is real, and it’s challenging!
That’s why we’ve rounded up some really helpful steps to make it easier to avoid the temptation.
1. Know the law:Check your state’s laws on handheld devices. Almost 100% of our country has a ban on all texting, but some states also have a ban on handheld devices completely.
2. Out of sight, out of mind: Stow your phone in a spot where you can’t see it, grab it, or hear it. For example, the glove compartment, the back seat, or the trunk.
3. Pull over: If you desperately need to make a call or text, pull over to a safe area to do so.
4. Enlist help: If you have an adult passenger in the car with you, ask them to make a call or respond to a text for you.
5. Use a GPS device instead of phone-based maps: By keeping driving directions separate from smartphone distractions, you’ll make it easier to avoid temptation.
6. Set “Do Not Disturb”: For example, on an iPhone: Settings > manual >Turn on Do not Disturb. Or you can swipe up from the bottom and click on the crescent moon. By enabling the ‘repeated calls’ feature, when you receive two calls from the same number within three minutes, the call will not be silenced. This is a good option to have in case of emergencies.
7. Let people know you’re about to drive, so they won’t expect a response: Set up a text shortcut, telling your people that you will call them back when you arrive at your destination. iPhone: Settings > General > Keyboard > Add New Shortcut > Type and add the phrase you’d like to create a shortcut for > Select Save on the right. Android: Open Google keyboard > long press the microphone button for the settings icon > Tap on the Google Keyboard Settings > Select the personal dictionary, then select the + icon, top right > For the long phrase enter the text you would like to send people > For your shortcut, use a shorter phrase or word. For example, ‘Driving’. > Hit the back button.
8. Download a helpful app to help keep your eyes on the road:
- AT&T DriveMode turns on when your car is going 15 MPH, allows you to silence text messages, and automatically replies to SMS and MMS messages. For AT&T postpaid customers only. Available on iPhone and Android (Free).
- DriveSafe.ly has your phone read your text messages and emails out loud, and sends an auto response for you. Both paid (single user $13.95 annual or $3.99 monthly, family pack $34.95 annual or $9.99 monthly) and free versions are available. For Android and Blackberry.
- SafeCell intercepts your calls and texts, sending people an automated message letting them know you’re driving. It allows for 9-1-1 breakaway calls in case of emergencies. Available on iPhone and Android ($2.99)
- Live2Txt Turn on to send automatic notifications to incoming calls or texts letting them know you’re driving; choose just calls or just texts, or both. Available on Android ($1. 99).
- DriveSafe Mode will let you set specific emergency numbers. It will notify the person keeping you in line (your partner, sister, friend, etc.) that you are texting, emailing, or browsing while in motion—to help keep you accountable. From iTunes, “This application is a communication tool that will help teens and parents or husbands and wives, or anyone that makes a commitment to not text and drive or use any feature of the phone that is dangerous or life threatening, to be accountable.” Available on iPhone and Android (Free).