I live on my phone. My appointments, movie tickets, banking, social media, and even the silly messages I share with my kids are all in the palm of my hand. Then there are the games, the photos, the occasional fragment of a future GeekDad post—these too are never out of reach.
And I like that. I appreciate that convenience, that reliability.
I’ve always thought of my smartphone as a tool, something that helps me do all the things I need to in a given day. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I also came to see the device as a dangerous distraction.
I was driving my kids home, just like I do every Friday, when I heard that familiar chime. Maybe it was something relevant like a traffic update, but it was just as likely something frivolous—a tweet, a shipping notice, an update from the NHL app. Whatever it was, I immediately grabbed for my phone, clicking the screen to life.
Now, there was no screech of tires. There was no impact, no blood on the blacktop. What there was, however, was a small voice from the backseat. It was my daughter.
“Don’t play with your phone while you’re driving, daddy!”
Her older brother, the more candid of the two, joined in from my right saying, plainly, “Yeah, dad. You could totally get us all killed.”
Being corrected is never easy. Especially when it’s by an 8- and an 11-year-old. Especially when they’re right.
A 2015 study by Braun Research uncovered some interesting statistics:
64% of drivers use their smartphones when driving alone. Interestingly, the answer changes when we have company. Only 36% of drivers look at their smartphone screens with passengers in the car. If you’re driving with a child in the car, only 30% look at their screens.
So, while I’m in the minority, I’m far from the only driver to glance at his phone while ferrying the kids around town. Still, it’s a behavior I’m looking to correct—and not just when I have children in the car.
It is with this in mind that I have elected to take AT&T’s 21-Day Challenge. A part of the long running It Can Wait campaign—now in its sixth year and some 10 million pledges strong—it challenges drivers to completely abstain from interacting with our mobile phones while on the road for a full three weeks (and hopefully beyond).
AT&T is quick to point out “the Power of the Pledge”:
- Almost half of people who pledged said they now don’t use their smartphones while driving.
- Those who share their promise or pledge with others are even more likely to stop, and more likely to speak up to others. Of those who shared their promise or pledge with others:
- 4-in-10 asked a friend or family member to not use their smartphone while driving.
- Nearly one-third asked a driver to not use their smartphone while driving when riding as a passenger.
- Nearly 4-in-10 asked a passenger to operate their smartphone while they are driving.
With this in mind and the support of my children behind me, I really think I can do it. I’ll be keeping you updated throughout the process on GeekDad’s various social media channels using the hashtag #ItCanWait, and I encourage you to follow along. Moreover, I encourage you to join me at itcanwait.com/pledge.
AT&T thinks we can reach 16 million pledges by the end of the year, and I agree. All it takes is your promise to Care, Share, and Be Aware. (And, if you need a little extra encouragement, you can include #ItCanWait in your social messages for a chance to win Google Cardboard and It Can Wait swag!)
AT&T even offers a helpful tool—not just to AT&T subscribers, but for users of all carriers—in the form of the DriveMode App. Available free on both the App Store and Google Play, DriveMode helps prevent distractions by silencing incoming alerts when your speed reaches 15 MPH, deactivating when the speed drops below 15 MPH for more than two minutes.
So join me in helping to make the roads (and our families) a little safer. Take the It Can Wait 21-Day Pledge; Care, Share, and Be Aware.
This is a sponsored blog post and I was compensated by AT&T. All thoughts and opinions are my own.