Distracted Driving - To most people it means not texting while driving. To others, it's about not putting on makeup, reading a book (true story!) or eating dinner behind the wheel. We think of it as what we are not supposed to be doing, instead of how to be safer.
We see it as two eyes on the road and two hands on the wheel. WiredSafety sees promise in hand-free and voice activated systems. We are realistic and know that while we may be able to stop texting while driving, we still have GPS, iPods, sound systems, traffic reports, network radio choices and screaming kids in the back seats. Unless we can understand more about distractions, concentration and the ability to drive safely while listening to music and directions, we will be out of luck. If the solution isn't reasonable, it's not a solution.
WiredSafety has been in the distracted driving space for several years, but quietly. In 2007 one of our Teenangels (our award-winning teen digital safety experts) made the case for why "distracted driving" fell within our core mission. "It's about the safer uses of digital technology," he stated. "Technology can help improve the risks, educate people and help control the problem."
Zach (the Teenangel from Wisconsin, just finishing his freshmen year at Arizona State University) was the one who made that argument to Parry Aftab for being allowed to conduct distracted driving research as his official Teenangels research project. He impressed her with his passion then and continues to impress her as he now runs WiredSafety's Curb Distracted Driving youth initiative. Zach and his volunteers present distracted driving presentations around the US in schools and at town meetings. His pledge and educational program is peer-designed and delivered. While WiredSafety works with the industry leaders in this space, this program comes from the teens themselves.
WiredSafety is one of the founding members of the first trade association dedicated to this issue, the Distracted Driving Safety Alliance. Industry members are often excluded from the conversation. WiredSafety strongly believes that the risks of distracted driving cannot be addressed without the contributions and leadership of the industry. In a multi-stakeholder approach, with NGOs, advocates, young people, educators, researchers, Nuance, Taser and others, as well as experienced government relations leadership, the DDSA is taking on the issues, tackling misinformation and hype and finding ways to allow people to drive with better concentration without having to give up digital devices.