A Different Distracted Driving Awareness Month

2020 is, to put it *very* lightly, weird. This October, that weirdness creates an opportunity.

by
Marie McGrath
October 1, 2020

Distracted Driving Awareness Month comes to us this year in a different season. Ordinarily, when DDAM arrives, Spring is underway and we enter this important month with the spirit of rebirth, blooming, and potential. Due to COVID-19, DDAM was postponed, and so we find ourselves, for the first time ever, celebrating this important month in the fall, and a very unusual fall at that.

With a little reframing, this unfortunate delay and restructuring of our year comes into focus looking like an opportunity. DDAM has never before coincided with National Teen Driver Safety Week, creating a unique crossover moment for us at TextLess Live More and all the students in our network. You'll hear more soon about some exciting virtual events we are hosting with our partners during the week of the 19th.

We are still in the midst of back-to-school madness, with homecomings (or their pandemic equivalents) just around the corner. This is an excellent moment to be especially intentional about focusing behind the wheel, especially as we begin to settle into our new routines for this year, and as we begin to move through the world a bit more.

The leaves are changing, the temperatures are lowering, and everything is beginning to feel a little cozier. In the Mid-Atlantic, where I am, the world is approaching that special shade of gold that practically begs you to go for a drive. It is no wonder, then, that this feels like the perfect time to sit quietly and think about distraction--why it happens, what the consequences might be, and how we can prevent it.

I encourage you to spend a little time tinkering with your phone at home--not right before you are about to hit the road, not as you're buckling into the car. Take 10 minutes on the couch to optimize your settings and make a plan to avoid distractions while you are driving. Some good places to start are:

  • Enabling Do Not Disturb While Driving and customizing your message
  • Download an app like This App Saves Lives or TrueMotion Family that rewards you for driving undistracted and monitors your habits
  • Think about the most distracting thing your phone does. Maybe it is a notification or vibration that really gets your attention, or perhaps the screen lighting up with a new message. Make a plan for how you will keep your focus, whether that means changing your sound or notification settings or always placing your phone in the glove compartment.

I implore you to commit this month to speaking up when you are in the car with someone who is driving distracted. Offer to respond to texts, DJ, or navigate for them so that they can stay focused, and then once you get to your destination, let that person know why you intervened: 9 people in this country lose their lives each day to distracted driving, and more than 1,000 people are injured, you love them and value their safety as well as yours.

We hope that the special nexus points this month will help you to reflect and discuss distractions with the people you love, and that you will share the results of those discussions with us. We're excited to hear what you come up with.

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