Blogs | Ethan Shorey

Seriously, put the phone away

I've long been concerned about what I see as an out-of-control epidemic of people who can't seem to put their phone down while driving. When I was out one morning recently, it seemed like just about every driver I passed was fiddling with their phone, many so distracted that they couldn't stay within the lines.

It's no secret that smartphones are America's great distraction, but do you know just how bad it's gotten? New research from AT&T shows that seven in 10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving. Nearly four in 10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving, almost three in 10 surf the net, and one in 10 fit in some video chatting on the drive.

(Before reading on, check out the DriveMode app in the following video. It senses when your car is in motion and automatically replies to incoming texts and calls to tell your friends that you’re driving and will call them back.)

Texting and emailing are still the most prevalent, but other smartphone activities behind the wheel are now common. Among social platforms, Facebook tops the list, with more than one quarter of those polled using the app while driving. About one in seven said they’re on Twitter behind the wheel.

AT&T this year is expanding the It Can Wait campaign from a focus on texting while driving to include other smartphone driving distractions that have emerged.

“When we launched It Can Wait five years ago, we pleaded with people to realize that no text is worth a life,” said Lori Lee, AT&T’s global marketing officer. “The same applies to other smartphone activities that people are doing while driving. For the sake of you and those around you, please keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone.”

Smartphone activities people say they do while driving include:
• Text (61 percent)
• Email (33 percent)
• Surf the net (28 percent)
• Facebook (27 percent)
• Snap a selfie/photo (17percent)
• Twitter (14 percent)
• Instagram (14 percent)
• Shoot a video (12 percent)
• Snapchat (11 percent)
• Video chat (10 percent)

Here are some other unsettling findings:
• 62 percent keep their smartphones within easy reach while driving.
• 30 percent of people who post to Twitter while driving do it “all the time.”
• 22 who access social networks while driving cite addiction as a reason.
• Of those who shoot videos behind the wheel, 27 percent think they can do it safely while driving.

AT&T will use the survey findings to help drive awareness of the dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel, and to encourage life-saving behavior change. It will collaborate with social platforms to share the message, and will launch a nationwide virtual reality tour this summer to help people understand that it’s not possible to drive safely while using a smartphone.

Twitter will collaborate with AT&T to share messages on their platform about the dangers of smartphone use behind the wheel.

Visit www.ItCanWait.com to learn more.

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