Continue To Be Aware… Not Distracted
By Marie McGrath | Director of TextLess Live More
Distracted Driving Awareness Month is the most important time of year for TextLess Live More. Historically, it is the month when we meet new students all over the country, talk to them about their digital lives, and introduce them to our mission: to end distracted driving and promote digital wellness so everyone can Live More every day. This April, like much of the past year, a lot of things look different; most of this important month for SADD and TextLess Live More has been spent, much like all other events in the past 14 months, connecting with one another from behind a screen.
Despite this hurdle, DDAM 2021 has been one of our most successful ever. More people in Tennessee and across the U.S. have taken the pledge online than ever before. We have built new relationships and had meaningful conversations nearly every day, all made possible by the same technology that we spend all our time talking about, the same technology that causes tragic distracted driving crashes. This complex duality illustrates an important point:
Technology is an incredible tool, and when used properly can enhance our lives and work to build and maintain connections with the people we love. We’ve seen this over the course of this quarantine. However, we’ve also seen in 20/20 vision that there is a flip side to this coin. Our need to be plugged in causes 9 Americans to die in distracted driving crashes every day. Zoom fatigue and other tech burnout is a familiar feeling for all of us as we continue to learn, work, and socialize in large part via screens. Our digital dependence is at an all-time high, and the impact of all this is still unknown.
This means that it is more important than ever to create boundaries with our devices. The most important one is to never engage with your phone behind the wheel. Create a healthy habit by putting your phone in the same place every time you get in the driver’s seat, whether it’s face down in the passenger seat, in the glove compartment, or in the backseat. Consider your boundaries outside of the car as well. Good boundary-setting questions to consider are: when is it appropriate to use my phone? Is using my phone right now safe? Is it kind? How will looking at my phone in this circumstance affect the people around me? How will it affect my experience at this moment?
Asking yourself these questions and bringing them up as a discussion with family and friends is a crucial first step to being a more attentive, present, and connected global and digital citizen. Raising the TLLM mission in meaningful dialogues like these is an amazing way to celebrate Distracted Driving Awareness Month and to Live More.
As April draws to a close, all of us at Team TLLM are excited to see what comes next. DDAM is only the first step in a year-round practice of digital wellness and attentive driving. We think of it like this:
Step 1: Take the pledge. Making that promise yourself to never drive distracted and to think mindfully about your cell phone use is the only way to start.
Step 2: Share the pledge. Once you’re on board, get your friends and family to join, too. Send them the pledge and talk to them about why it’s so important.
Step 3: Present our mission. Once you’ve got a core group of folks Living More in your community, take it one step further. Scheduling a presentation with one of our amazing team members, or presenting yourself is a wonderful way to engage your school or community group in safe driving and healthy living.
Step 4: GetLiving. Once TLLM is part of the social consciousness in your community, engage in a unique way every month with our GetLiving Campaign. This is the part where you actually practice building healthy habits, both in and outside of the car, using initiatives designed by high school students from around the country.
Thanks for reading and for taking the first step! Let us know how your TLLM journey is going here.