Texting while driving is basically like driving around with a blindfold on. As anyone in a poppin’ group chat knows, picking out the right GIF response requires serious deliberation and concentration, but you can’t focus on that and driving down the highway at the same time. More importantly, there are serious consequences to sending that heart-eyes emoji. Between 2012 and 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 26,004 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. If you’re texting, you’re not driving.
With fatalities involving distracted driving rising in the last year, NHTSA is continuing its national enforcement campaign where law enforcement will be mobilizing to stop texting and distracted drivers. Their message is simple: “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
Now, putting down your own phone while driving might seem obvious. But things may get trickier when riding with a friend who’s glued to their notifications while behind the wheel. If you’re struggling with chill, but firm ways to get your friends to focus on the road and not their phones, here are six methods to curb their distracted driving.
Volunteer To Be Their “Designated Texter”
We get it, it might be an urgent matter. Or your friend simply can’t wait to text back their crush. So offer to take their phone and send the text message for them. This way, your friend can remain focused on driving while also getting that texting itch out of their system. This role can also include responsibilities like dealing with navigation apps and answering phone calls. Look, being a passenger is work too.
Suggest that the driver pull over in a safe location, send their text, and return to the road once they put their phone away. Sure, this might make the ETA longer, but it’s a lot shorter and safer than getting into a crash caused by distracted driving. Another option: suggest you take over the wheel, so your friend can carry on their text conversation without serious risk to both of you and others.
Do Not Disturb
Your friend can’t get distracted by text messages they don’t know they have. Utilizing the “Do Not Disturb” available on most smartphones cuts temptation off right at the source. Suggest your friend turn it on and wait until you reach your destination to check their notifications. Here’s another option if your friend absolutely cannot resist the urge: stash the phone away in the glove compartment or trunk.
Set A Strong Example
We follow what we see. A more subtle, and admittedly long-term strategy is to show your friends you never text while you drive. This may discourage them from engaging in distracted driving whenever you’re riding in their car and, hopefully, even when you’re not.
Share The Risks Of Texting And Driving
It is possible your friend does not understand the dangerous epidemic distracted driving has become in America, especially among young drivers. Offer up one of these sobering facts, provided by NHTSA: in 2019, there were 3,142 lives lost in crashes involving distracted drivers, and 9 percent of all fatal crashes in the past nine years involved distracted driving. Sharing these statistics can help your friend realize not using their phone while driving is not just about them. It can help stop the disturbing rise in lives lost. Plus, texting while driving is a ticketable offense in 48 states.
Do Not Ride With Them
If all else fails, and your friend refuses to stop texting and driving, stop riding in the car with them. First, this will ensure you are not in an unsafe situation. It will also take you out of the potentially uncomfortable position of having to reprimand them for distracted driving. And it will send a clear message that you do not tolerate putting yourself and other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists at risk.