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Texting and Driving: Solving Today’s Scariest Tech Problem

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Submitted by on Tuesday, September 17, 2013

While technology has undoubtedly improved our lives in countless ways, the lesser-known reality is that it’s made us less safe in many ways, as well. Consider recent revelations rocking the tech world: hackers breaking into “smart” home automation systems, and worries about the iPhone 5S’ fingerprint sensor putting individual privacy at risk.

But one of the most glaring examples of technology endangering our lives is also one of the most endemic to modern life: texting while driving. According to the National Safety Council, each year, over 100,000 accidents are caused by drivers texting while behind the wheel. A recent AT&T survey for ItCanWait.com found that 98% of respondents agreed that sending a text or email while driving was not safe — but nearly half of those surveyed still admitted to doing just that.

Dig deeper and you’ll find even more staggering numbers. In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, while 387,000 people were injured. Studies routinely show that texting while driving increases the chance of an accident by at least 23% — and can even be worse than driving after consuming alcohol. Among teenagers, more deaths occurred in 2012 from crashes involving texting than crashes influenced by alcohol.

Luckily, the public push to end this dangerous practice is reaching a fever pitch. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all driverscountless advertising campaigns have bluntly and emotionally targeted texting and driving behavior; and AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign recently hired renowned documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog to direct a sobering short film about the consequences of texting and driving.

Yet some people, like acclaimed marketing blogger Seth Godin, believe that these intense pushes to end texting while driving won’t work. Now, Seth doesn’t WANT people to text and drive — he just wants to see technology rescue itself from this self-generated conundrum. Listed below are two solutions that could do just that, along with two more basic ideas for shifting the paradigm on texting and driving. The quicker that can happen, the quicker all of us will be safer on the road.

• Mobile apps like AT&T’s “DriveMode®,” which sends out a customizable auto-reply to anyone who texts a user that is currently driving. Past litigation has held those knowingly texting a driver responsible for subsequent crashes. 

• Vigorous mobile device acceptable use policies (MDAUP). These policies, which can require signatories to refrain from all cell phone use while driving, are becoming more and more common in the business world. CMIT Solutions offers an MDAUP that can be right-sized for your business, your employees, and your needs.

• Virtual texting-while-driving simulators. Countless studies show that humans learn some of what we read and some of what we hear — but far more of what we personally experience. So immersion in virtual texting-while-driving simulators currently touring schools across the country (and offered online) can make a measurable impact, especially on impressionable young minds.

• Future mobile-phone technologies that could make texting while driving culturally obsolete. AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign fact sheet hints at “device makers and app developers [having] all devices include a pre-loaded, no-text-and-drive technology solution as soon as possible,” a solution that marketing guru Seth Godin says might be inevitable, if hard to accept. “People won’t die as a result,” Godin reasons. “It won’t cost the companies a penny in profit. Defenders of the status quo will scream about freedom and access and rights and how it used to be… But you know what? It’s better than being dead.”

CMIT Solutions cares about the safety of you, your family, and your business. Contact us today to find out more about our Mobile Device Acceptable Use Policy and why texting and driving is one tech problem you need to solve now. 

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