“Don’t Text and Drive Day” approved by BOS unanimously

Sept.  19th will be “Don’t Text and Drive Day” in New Canaan stated a resolution passed unanimously by the Board of Selectmen Tuesday morning.

In a resolution prepared by phone company AT&T similar to resolutions passed by municipalities all over the United States, the town pledged to “focus attention on the dangers of texting while driving,” highlighting the dangers and consequences of the act.

Sept. 19 is also “No Text On Board” pledge day, an effort sponsored by AT&T which aims to get people to pledge not to text and drive. AT&T has created a whole website for the initiative, called itcanwait.org, which I’m sure they hope will be more effective than similarly named virginity pledges.

As part of their effort, AT&T created a video showing the dangers of texting while driving.

According to distraction.gov, the government’s official website on this topic, “18% of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes” in the United States, and as quoted in the resolution passed by the BOS, “Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.”

The AT&T campaign is one indication of a growing trend in eradicating distracted driving.

In the state of Connecticut any use of a handheld cell phone is against the law and is a primary offense, meaning that drivers can be stopped by the police for no reason other than that they are using a handheld device.

AT&T also offers an app called DriveMode which silences incoming notifications like texts and calls on the user’s phone and responds with a text that the user will respond when she or he is no longer driving. The app does allow the user to pick up to five phone number from whom to accept calls. DriveMode is free for AT&T users.

But if simply not texting while driving proves to be practically unmanageable, then perhaps hands-free texting while driving will carry the day. The 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 will be the first vehicle that allows for hands-free texting. It will have a Siri-like system that will read aloud incoming texts and allow passengers and drivers to dictate outgoing messages. BMW has announced that it will offer a similar product in its 7-series this fall, with the rest of the car brands not far behind.

Not all phone companies are moving in the same direction however. LG, the third-largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world, recently held a competition to find America’s Fastest Texter this August in New York City.

The full text of the Town’s resolution:

Town of New Canaan

Resolution Designating September 19, 2012 as

“Don’t Text and Drive Day”

Whereas text messaging has experienced a tenfold increase[1] in just the past three years, and

Whereas texting has become the way many people communicate, which means some people are doing it at the worst possible time – while driving, and

Whereas those who text while driving are 23 times[2] more likely to be involved in some type of safety critical event as compared to those drivers who don’t text while they drive, and

Whereas texting while driving is one of the leading causes of vehicular accidents and associated injuries in Connecticut, especially among inexperienced drivers, and

Whereas The Town of New Canaan is committed to helping ensure the well-being and safety of the residents of the community,

Now, therefore be it resolved, that the Board of Selectmen designates September 19, 2012 as “Don’t Text and Drive Day” to focus attention on the dangers of texting while driving, and

Be it further resolved that the members of the Board of Selectmen have each taken the personal pledge to not text and drive, will work to educate our community about the dangers of texting while driving and will encourage others to take the pledge not to text and drive.

Town of New Canaan

[1] CTIA – The Wireless Association

[2] Virginia Tech Transportation Institute