WHY COMMUTING FEEDS THE SURGE IN TEXTING-WHILE-DRIVING
A recent survey from AT&T exposes a shocking new trend. Texting-while-driving among adult commuters has now surprassed the teenage class.
This is something I would never have predicted to happen, but it makes perfectly good sense when you think about the circumstances that motivate the behavior.
Before we talk about the reasons why I believe this trend exists in the first place, let's look at some of the facts that AT&T uncovered in their research:
- Nearly half of commuters (49%) admitted to texting while driving, a higher rate than reported by teens (43%)
- They are doing so more than they used to. Six in 10 commuters said they never texted while driving three years ago.
- Texting while driving despite knowing the risks. 98% said sending a text or email while driving isn’t safe.
- For many, it has become a habit. More than 40% of those who admitted to texting while driving called it a habit.
The reasoning smacks right in the face of logic. We as adults know better, but our actions are exactly opposite of our common sense. Is there a reason for this trend? Can we get to the root of the issue? And if so, what is the key to reversing this dangerous behavio?
First and foremost, we've all got to start with an admission of guilt. I for one am guilty of texting while driving, and I'm personally working on putting it to a stop altogether. I have backslidden several times, and have become frustrated and disappointed with myself after experiencing near-miss accidents here and therel.
I used to justify the action by thining it was okay for experienced drivers, because the law in Missouri says it is illegal for "novice drivers" (under the age fo 21) to text and drive. It's too bad the law doesn't cover the dense-headed adults like me, so my behavior continued and caused me to have a few potential mishaps.
After chastizing myself with a "what is wrong with you, stupid??? Why do you keep taking chances like this?", I would swear off texting and driving only to start up the behavior again, causing me instances of running over a rumble strip or brushing up against a curb.
The reason that I have not been able to make a once-and-for-all behavioral change is because I have not uncovered the root of the problem. Once I address the root of the problem, a permanent behavioral change can take place.
I firmly believe that I have identified root of the problem why so many commuters admit to texting-while-driving: we are far too busy, stressed out, behind on our schedules, and trying to do two things at once to catch up.
This is what motivates us to fill in the dead time while commuting by answering emails, sending text messages, and trying to "catch up" on these minor things before we arrive at our destination to deal with the stress of work.
The behavioral change that need to take place to prevent a possible fatal or injury accident from fooling with our smartphones is to look at the commuting time as a time to relax, decompress, and take relief from the stress of the day. Too many of us consider commuting as valuable captive time to "catch up" on things since we have no other distractions. But that can change.
Instead of looking at commuting time as "catch up" time for communicating, we need to implement new activities to pass the time while we are stuck in the car. It doesn't even matter how long or short of a commute you have. I only commute for 15 minutes one way each day, and I still use it as a "catch up" time to fool with my phone.
Here are a few ideas that you can use to change the bad habit of being on your smartphone while driving in the car, once and for all. Do this for two weeks straight, and a new habit will be formed. This will lesson the chance for backsliding. Fill that time with something definite, and it will stick. Here are the ideas for spending that "dead tim" in your car:
- Use commuting time to decompress, de-stress, and relax by listening to soft music, meditiation tracks, a sermon, or self-help CD. View it as your daily scheduled therapeutic session.
- Turn commuting time into your personal learning time. Get a book-on-CD series and learn about a topic that is important to you, or learn a new language. View your car time as your personal classroom time. Turn off your phone just as you would in a normal classroom.
- Listen to National Public Radio each and every morning. Get caught up on events around the world, and enjoy all of the interesting cultural stories. Instead of turning on the news at home, save your commute for listening to the news.
- Turn off EVERYTHING, radio included, and have a 15-minute "time of peace" each day so you can reflect on what you want to accomplish for the day. Use it as a time to clear your mind of clutter and worries, and just enjoy the peace and quiet. You will look forward to this time every day if you try it out.
The bottom line is, you have to create a new habit. Do something for two weeks straight, and you will have a much better chance of eliminating your need to text and drive. Instead of making a pledge to change your behavior every time you scare yourself into a bowel movement, try creating a new habit that has meaning.
Are you truly serious about making a new habit? Do you really want to avoid a potentially hazardous situation from happening when you backslide? Then put the icing on the cake by joining me in making one more change during your two-week habit forming time:
VOW TO PUT YOUR CELL PHONE IN THE TRUNK ON THE WAY TO WORK!
I am going to comit to doing this for a two week period. It's what I need to make sure that my change of habit is permanent. For all of you who know you need to make a change, I challenge you to join me in putting your smartphone junk in your trunk for two weeks in order to insure that your new habit is set in stone.
Place a comment in the Disqus comments section with your personal attestation that you will preserve and protect your two-week habit-forming initiation by putting your phone in the trunk during your commute. Let's see how many people will join.
Spread the word and save a life! Send this article to friends and family that you care about, and ask them to join in.
Big thanks to AT&T St. Louis Senior Public Relations Manager Katie Nagus for bringing this to my attention and encouraging me to spread the word!
For more information and to take the pledge for no texting-while-driving, head on over to the AT&T "It Can Wait" page by clicking the link or the picture below!