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5 Old-School Remedies for Distracted Driving Epidemic

Texting while driving has been called an "epidemic" by many researchers; is the Red Thumb Reminder a practical way to help curb the impulse to pick up your phone while driving?

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The Red Thumb Reminder Campaign was launched to help people help themselves when it comes to distracted driving. Drivers are encouraged to paint one thumbnail red, so that when they pick up their phone while driving, they will see the red nail and be reminded that they should not be using their phone.

But, is it really practical? And, will it really work for most drivers?

Distracted driving, whatever the reason, is a problem, a big problem. The biggest problem, however, is not people not knowing that they should not be using their phone while driving—anyone who has access to the outside world is aware of that. And, frankly, it is hard to believe that people “forget” that they should not be using their phone—that excuse is as unacceptable as claiming not to know you shouldn’t be using it. The biggest problem with distracted driving is that people flat-out refuse to accept that THEY are “one of those people.” Many drivers simply do not believe that driving while using the phone is a distraction for them.

According to, you—yes, YOU--are twice as likely to crash if you text while driving. Teens texting while driving is a particular problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that, of drivers ages 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21% of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones. Of course, how can we expect better from our teens when we cannot depend on the adults? While 25% of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, 20% of teens and 10% of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving, relates the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. And, if you’re thinking, “Well, I use a headset,” the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has confimed in its research that headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.

If you think painting a nail red will do it for you, by all means, do it. But, how about these old-school “tricks” to really take control of cellphone use while driving?

  1. Turn off your phone or, at minimum, silence it. Some devices even have a "do not disturb" mode. Just keep it quiet so you aren't reaching out to answer it.
  2. Put the phone out of reach, in your purse or even the back seat—and leave it be.
  3. Tell your family and friends that you will no longer answer calls while on the road and mean it; perhaps you will convince them to make that choice, as well.
  4. Add a “distracted driving app” to your phone, to prevent you from going there.
  5. Take responsibility for your actions and just make the choice to not answer the phone--or start any conversations--while driving.

There are many other things that can be distractions while driving—eating, drinking, some people will even try to do things they should have done at home, like putting on makeup or finishing up homework! None of these are good, and all can cause accidents. But, using a phone is the most prevalent distraction problem on the roadways today, an “epidemic” according to many researchers on the subject. And, these accidents are so easily preventable.

Just turn your phone off while you drive.

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shirl (not verified)    March 18, 2014 - 4:22PM

I like it! :) nothing like a ''reminder''. I think this works for those who are ''addicted'' to the phone. and trying to break the habit of using it in the car. for me, it is not a problem, but for so much of our society, the phone is just like breathing! I guess the importance of the phone will only increase. and yes, they can save your life in an emergency, but, can also cause your death when used while driving. just that simple.