Distracted driving: Does the auto community care?

Distracted driving: Does the auto community care?

I’m in week five of my distracted driving campaign (I’m sure you’ve seen the multitude of my posts, emails, tweets, and Facebook updates), and I have to say that I’ve discovered a disconnect that disappoints me. While many of my acquaintances and friends within the automotive community have shown much support and enthusiasm for Distraction Free Fridays, the majority have been silent.

As auto enthusiasts, we hear so much about the dangers of bad habits behind the wheel – drinking and driving, texting and driving, tweeting, Facebooking – you name it, we’ve been told not to do it. At a certain point, I think that we become desensitized to it. Because we are so in tune with the automotive industry at large, we hear more about certain initiatives than does the general public.

However, I have been disappointed by the number of tweets I have read from my tweeps (read: “friends on Twitter”) that were typed when that person was behind the wheel. These aren’t just any tweeps – these are people who are car lovers and who care about the industry. These are people who should know better.

Yesterday, I came across the below tweet with a photo taken by the driver, who then typed his text and tweeted his followers, asking them to tell him if he should speed or not. There are so many things wrong with this tweet that I can’t even go into them all. It’s pretty clear why this tweet would bother me – and so many others who have been affected directly and indirectly by either the loss of someone who was driving distracted or because of someone who was driving while distracted.

Note: I’m not spotlighting this because I want to call out the person who posted this in a negative way. I simply hope that others might learn from his example. It’s not smart to tweet, twitpic, type, and speed all at the same time!

While some may find it annoying – kind of like a mosquito buzzing in their ear – that I am continuously encouraging more awareness around distracted driving during my eight-week-long campaign, I wonder when my pestering will be enough. When will what I’m saying cause others to think twice? That’s what this initiative is all about in the first place. Asking people to think twice before answering that email when your Blackberry beeps. Think twice about snapping a picture when you’re in the driver’s seat (and moving).

Is it really going to take a tragedy in your life to change your behavior? I certainly hope not.

Oh, and by the way, the correct answer is d) Put the device aside and focus on your drive!

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This article was written by

Melanie Batenchuk founded Be Car Chic in 2009 as a way to help consumers make smart decisions when buying and selling their cars. Her prior work at the dealership, trade association and manufacturer levels has provided her a deep understanding of the complex facets within the auto industry, making her a leading woman in her field.

There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Ike at 10:12 AM

    I’m definitely guilty of this. It’s really hard to change your behavior, even when you’ve been involved in an accident. I had a fender bender once because of distracted driving and I put down the phone for a while. However, you get comfortable and get back at it unless you make a commitment to change.

  2. Melanie Batenchuk at 10:35 AM

    Ike – Thanks for being so honest here. It’s definitely something that we’ve all been guilty of at one time or another. I hope that at some point driving while texting or tweeting will become as socially unacceptable as driving drunk is. While I don’t believe that the federal government should completely take over this issue through legislation, I do believe that state-by-state law enforcement will help to curb this behavior. Plus, I really believe that individuals should take it upon themselves to self-discipline and make the choice to drive without being at the beck and call of our technological devices.

  3. David Jackson at 11:02 AM

    Melanie, great article. Here’s what bugs me. I see MANY local police, county Sheriffs, and even some state Troopers holding a cell phone and talking while driving in their Patrol Cars. In New York where I live, talking on a handheld phone while driving is a primary offense. Peace officers must set an example about distracted driving.

  4. Melanie Batenchuk at 11:51 AM

    David – Thanks for your comment. You’re exactly right. While I agree that putting laws in place could curb some behavior, I feel more strongly that people should take individual responsibility for what they do behind the wheel. Just like a mom or dad setting an example for their child, our public safety officers need to make sure they’re doing the same for the greater good. Hope you have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend. Thanks! -Melanie