Why We All Need a ‘Designated Texter’

By Lauren Gelman


Have you seen any of the sobering anti-texting-and-driving commercials for AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign? The heart-breaking videos of such unimportant text messages as “Yeah” (above) or “Where R” that drivers received during fatal or debilitating car crashes are enough to make me want to turn off my phone entirely while I drive, although I admit I’ve yet to take that step.

So when I happened on this Washington Post article about a trend of “designated texters” among teen drivers, it made me think that we all should consider this safety measure. A State Farm Insurance survey released earlier this week found that 78 percent of teens said that as passengers in a car, they spoke up about a fellow driver’s distracted behavior, and 84 percent of the time, the driver listened and stopped the behavior. Unfortunately, 34 percent said they still text and drive themselves.

So what’s the solution? Perhaps better communication between parents and their newbie drivers. A previous State Farm survey found that teens who’ve spoken often with their parents about texting and driving are less likely to engage in it than those who haven’t. And for parents, that also means serving as a good role model, and ignoring your phone when it buzzes, or asking a passenger—your designated texter— to type or respond to an urgent-enough text message.

Need more convincing? Just take a look at some of these stats:

• The average length of time your eyes are off the road while sending a text is five seconds, long enough to travel the length of a football field if you’re going 55 mph.

• A texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into an accident than a non-texting driver.

• Using a cell phone while driving affects your reaction time as much as a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent, the legal limit.

• About 18 percent of lethal distracted-driving related crashes involved cell phones.