Distracted driving is a full-blown epidemic, but there's something we can all do that will help, and it couldn't be easier.
According to the DMV, in 2015, distracted driving was the cause of 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries in the United States. In 2016, another 3,450 were killed. At any moment during daylight hours approximately 481,000 U.S. drivers are using their smartphones while driving. Projections show that by 2030, without social change on this issue, road traffic injuries will be the fifth leading cause of death worldwide, surpassing HIV/AIDS, all forms of cancer, violence, and diabetes.
We know it's reckless. We know it's one of the most irresponsible things people do. We promise ourselves we're not going to do it. Yet so many of us still do it. We cheat on our own promises. It is without a doubt an addiction just like a drug.
These are some things I've said or simply told myself in my head while driving:
"Just a quick glance and then I'll put it down!"
"Only when I'm stopped at a light, I swear!"
"It's fine, I'm actually better at this than other people."
Fortunately, I have never been involved in a collision where I or the other driver was distracted by devices, but I knew that the longer I carried on cheating at this "game", the more likely it was that I would be. So when I discovered that my iPhone has a built-in feature that automatically sets a DND (Do Not Disturb) message when I'm driving, I had to try it.
While working on launching Laug Auf with my partners, Axel and Tuck, we were messaging each constantly every day. But the Laug Auf manifesto is clear: "LET'S PUT AWAY OUR PHONES MORE OFTEN." As important as each message was between us as we developed this new movement, I realized it could wait. So I set my DND. Now if you try to text me when I'm driving you'll get an automatic reply just like this. And I'll just get back to you later. If it's truly urgent all you have to do is text "urgent" back and I'll get it.
This has helped me in 2 ways:
1) I no longer get notifications while driving that stimulate the dopamine functions in my brain which compel me to pick up my phone.
2) When I do sometimes instinctively and semi-consciously pick up my phone while driving, whether it's to check weather, or jot down a note so I don't forget something, or whatever, my phone is locked and I can't get into it without lying and clicking the "I'm Not Driving" button. This gives me the extra reminder that I need - and it's enough to give me pause and put it down.
If you haven't already done this, I encourage you to try it. It just might save your life or someone else's. Let's all take this little step to be the change we want to see in the world.
Here's how on an iPhone:
Put whatever message you want, or join me and the Laug Auf Nation in copying my DND message word for word. Thanks and happy driving!