Letter from the editor: committing to distraction-free driving

Letter from the editor: committing to distraction-free driving

Dear friends and readers:

Last spring, Carlos Beltran of Beltran About Cars approached me to collaborate on an issue that doesn’t grab a lot of headlines in the automotive enthusiast world – distracted driving.

I hadn’t given the issue much thought prior to our conversation, but I knew that the Administration had been looking to issue new rules on the matter while promoting its anti-distraction stance. Those guidelines for what automakers should include and exclude in their dashboards hit the wire just yesterday.

A plan to enthuse auto enthusiasts

We launched an eight-week long campaign with the aim of bringing awareness and to educate those within the automotive community about the dangers of driving while distracted. The “Distraction Free Fridays” initiative began in April of 2011, accompanied by a Facebook page and a Twitter hash tag (#DFF) in order to harness the power of social media.

We saw a great amount of success throughout the initiative. Each Friday, our friends in the auto world would tweet their pledges to drive distraction-free on Fridays. Our hope was that this once-a-week behavior would translate into an everyday habit.

You see, often times we ignore the local and federal ad campaigns that target our bad behaviors. I believe that distracted driving is one of those scenarios. We think that ‘we can do it better’ than the people driving erratically around us. But the honest truth is – we can’t.

Not much has changed

Nearly a year later, I am disappointed to still see many auto enthusiasts and those who represent the industry sharing photos that they’ve taken from behind the wheel and posting to social media sites while driving. At these times I wonder, “When will the individuals in the auto community get it?”

We have to set the example for others – we have to start the positive behaviors and lead the charge. It’s our duty as car enthusiasts. It’s our duty as lovers of the auto industry. 

Pledging to do better

I write this letter today to ask you to join me in taking not just the Distraction Free Fridays pledge, but the EVERYDAY pledge, to put your mobile device aside and focus on the drive. It’s as simple as thinking twice before reaching for your cell phone, iPod, iPad, or other handheld technology while driving. It truly is a mindset.

Please show your support and that you are taking the pledge by tweeting the following:

I vow to put my device aside and focus on the drive, today and every day. Join me in combating #distracteddriving by RT’ing this.

I know many of you already join me in the passion for this cause, and I thank you for your ongoing support and dedication to teaching others about the dangers of driving while distracted.


Melanie Batenchuk

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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 6 comments for this article
  1. Joseph Thomas at 3:32 PM

    Hi Melanie !

    May I offer one major benefit of distraction-free driving? Reviewing my past fifty years of driving I’ve realized that I’ve never had a speeding ticket or an accident. My vehicles have included a red Corvette, yellow Jaguar E-type, a purple motorcycle, and others of the “arrest-me-now” variety. Being a typical 66 year-old I’m not on FaceBook, don’t tweet and my non-texting TracFone sits in the glove compartment for emergencies. I don’t even listen to the radio when I drive and there’s no eating, smoking or coffee allowed in my cars. I drive cars like I ride motorcycles and fly planes – defensively and distraction-free. Extreme, I know, for today but again….no tickets or crashes ever.

  2. Melanie Batenchuk Author at 3:55 PM

    Thanks so much for sharing your personal testimony here, Joseph! It’s great to hear that you’ve had a safe driving for 50 years – what a great story. Here’s to many more crash-free years!

    I, too, used to keep my cell phone in the glove compartment for emergencies; however, I’m between Generation Y and X, so now I’m attached to technology and social media…with the exception of when I’m driving of course!


  3. Aunt J-Me at 11:22 AM

    I am so thrilled to find another who is helping educate. I lost my sister almost a year ago to a distracted driver and have made it my purpose to educate whomever will listen about the dangers of distracted driving. Thank you!

  4. Melanie Batenchuk Author at 1:53 PM

    J-Me, I’m so sorry for your loss and to hear that you’ve been personally impacted by distracted driving. Thanks for all that you’re doing to also bring awareness to this serious issue. It is my aim to help educate others, particularly auto enthusiasts, about the dangers of this bad habit. It only takes one text, tweet or Facebook post as we saw on the Today show this morning: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/46627015/ns/today-today_people/#.T1Ty_PHClqE

    Keep up the good work, and please stay in touch!