From an editorial Wednesday in the Chicago Tribune:
OK, confess: While youre reading this, at the kitchen table or your desk at work, what else are you doing? Finishing off your oatmeal? Applying last touches of makeup? Texting with friends about tonights plans?
We understand. Multitasking rules. Impatience is a national affliction. We know, because we suffer from it.
But when you slip behind the steering wheel, all of that changes. Driving is multitasking. A moments distraction can be fatal.
OK, were telling drivers what they already know. But many Americans still text and drive, even though it is against the law in many states. They ignore research that shows texting while driving sharply increases the chances of an accident.
AT&T has launched a public education campaign to persuade scofflaws not to text while driving. The slogan is a message all drivers should heed: It can wait.
But the TV ad that captured our attention focuses on Wil Craig. In 2008, Craig, then 17, suffered a severe brain injury when the car he was a passenger in hit a tree. The driver, his girlfriend, was texting when she missed the brake and hit the accelerator, Craig says in the ad. It was where r, literally the word where then the letter r, he says haltingly. Six letters.
Craig says he had to be cut out of the windshield. He lingered in a coma for more than eight weeks. He has struggled to learn to speak again.
We know that public education campaigns and tough laws can change attitudes and behavior. We also know it is hard to kick the texting habit on the road. But there is help. For example: Theres a new smartphone app called Rode Dog, designed by a California sixth-grader in a contest sponsored by AT&T. It allows the user to join a pack of friends and family, who can check if youre texting while driving. If you are, the other pack members can send an audible barking sound to your phone. The barking continues until the texting stops. Peer or parental pressure to remind drivers that nothing on the cell phone is worth your attention while on the road. Great idea.
Another app sends an automatic reply when you get a text, alerting the sender that you are driving.
We know that many Americans suffer severe withdrawal pangs if theyre not within constant reach of email, Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc. If the car is not moving as in parked thats OK. But if youre checking your email while youre driving, youre taking as much of a risk as you would if you were texting.
Remember, six letters nearly killed Wil Craig. Six more letters for those who still text and drive: Stop it.