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Updated 12/3/11 at 7:03 a.m.
Earlier this week, I was astonished at the carelessness of one of our own. I couldn’t believe the behavior of a professional who represents the auto industry here in the D.C. area.
A friend of mine brought the tweet of Audi’s social media manager, Andy White, to my attention because of my prior campaign against distracted driving called Distraction Free Fridays. I was shocked to find yet another example in the auto community of someone not caring about an issue that impacts so many lives.
On November 30, Andy White took a photo with his iPhone of his iPad resting on his steering wheel, then tweeted that picture to his 741 followers, while driving down I-66 in Northern Virginia.
Audi should not only be aware of Andy’s dangerous behind-the-wheel move, but they should also take action against Mr. White for his poor choices as a public representation of their brand. This kind of negligence is reminiscent of Scott Bartosiewicz, who was part of Chrysler’s social media team, and infamously tweeted from the driver’s seat last fall. While it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, automakers need to understand that if you’re hiring individuals to represent your brand, it’s your responsibility to both train these people to be the best public face and keep a pulse on their public interactions.
Whatever happened to the 4,000 VW and Audi employees who pledged, as part of a program with the Department of Transportation, to never text and drive? Tweeting IS a form of texting. I guess Andy forgot about that when he was touting his new “in-car multitouch connected enabled mobile office.”
This should be a lesson to all of us who represent the auto industry as professionals. Although the campaign may be over, the cause is not. So please take the Distraction Free Fridays (#DFF) pledge again today as you commute to and from work. Let’s be the positive example for others rather than continuing to be part of the problem.
Here’s a sample tweet that you can use for today, and any other day you’d like to take the pledge:
I care about #distracteddriving. I’m taking the Distraction Free Fridays pledge to put the device aside and focus on the drive. #DFF
I neglected to include in my original post that there is a ban on texting for all drivers in the state of Virginia. Thanks to a Twitter tip, here’s more clarification on the legality of using an iPad and iPhone behind the wheel.
Andy White issued a public apology via the tweet pictured above that linked to an educational website from NHTSA. I appreciate that Andy acknowledged the error and in his response reinforced the importance of safe driving, in addition to his support for the pledge VW and Audi employees took this July. This was definitely an unfortunate lesson, but one I believe White understands now – as mentioned in this recent Mashable article – and one that we can all learn from as we take to the driver’s seat.
For more information about Be Car Chic‘s coverage on distracted driving please refer to the following posts:
- #DFF: A campaign to prevent distracted driving
- Industry Pulse: NHTSA Administrator David Strickland talks distracted driving
- #DFF: Laws could shape drivers’ behind-the-wheel behavior
- #DFF: Congress may legislate to curb distracted driving
- Industry Pulse: Airbiquity’s Leo McCloskey on Connected Cars, Safe Driving