I want some clever person at Apple, Samsung, Nokia, et. al. to develop a new hardware button to allow users to put the smart phone on “drive mode”. The new “drive mode” button would essentially operate similar to the “airplane mode” setting, but would have the additional cool feature of optionally replying to any text message with a customizable “I’m driving right now – will reply, as soon as I stop the car“. The temptation to respond to a text while driving is too much for most text-aholics. The FOMO factor is too great for the hyper-socially connected. So let’s dampen the temptation, while still staying connected. Feed your texter pals a sign of life. Let them know you’ll get right back to them. All without having to touch or look at your device while operating the car.
At the intersection of technology and behavior, there need to be solutions to both dimensions. Communications campaigns, legislation, scary statistics, bumper stickers are all good, but we need to hit this problem on the technology front too.
In response to the annoyance factor, most phones now have a silencing hardware button. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s supported by social pressure. You know what this means if you’ve ever had your phone sound off in a large group, after you’ve been specially requested to silence your phone.
If we can easily effect behaviors and solve the annoyance factor, I’m confident we could also solve the safety factor. Behavior-only based changes are not impacting the statistics. The statistics are so dramatic, you can’t believe they are true. Why? Because, if they were legitimate, then surely there would be a bigger movement to make a change. For example, “Researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park estimate more than 3,000 annual teen deaths nationwide from texting and 300,000 injuries.” or put another way “11 teen deaths EVERY DAY – Ins. Institute for Hwy Safety Fatality Facts“. Where is the MADD organization for texting?
Who would have thought that this freedom-loving country would have been successful in legislating car seat belts? Don’t you feel naked without your seat belt now? But we did it, and I’m sure we will solve the texting while driving problem too. I look forward to the day, when driving while using a phone feels every bit as strange as driving without a seat belt. It does for me already, I look forward to more people joining me!