Letter from the editor: committing to distraction-free driving

Thu, 02/23/2012 - 05:59
Dear friends and readers: Last spring, Carlos Beltran of Beltran About Cars approached me to collaborate on an issue that doesn’t grab a lot of headlines in the automotive enthusiast world – distracted driving. I hadn’t given the issue much thought prior to our conversation, but I knew that the Administration had been looking to issue new rules on the matter while promoting its anti-distraction stance. Those guidelines for what automakers should include and exclude in their dashboards hit the wire just yesterday. A plan to enthuse auto enthusiasts We launched an eight-week long campaign with the aim of bringing awareness and to educate those within the automotive community about the dangers of driving while distracted. The “Distraction Free Fridays” initiative began in April of 2011, accompanied by a Facebook page and a Twitter hash tag (#DFF) in order to harness the power of social media. We saw a great amount of success throughout the initiative. Each Friday, our friends in the auto world would tweet their pledges to drive distraction-free on Fridays. Our hope was that this once-a-week behavior would translate into an everyday habit. You see, often times we ignore the local and federal ad campaigns that target our bad behaviors. I believe that distracted driving is one of those scenarios. We think that ‘we can do it better’ than the people driving erratically around us. But the honest truth is – we can’t. Not much has changed Nearly a year later, I am disappointed to still see many auto enthusiasts and those who represent the industry sharing photos that they’ve taken from behind the wheel and posting to social media sites while driving. At these times I wonder, “When will the individuals in the auto community get it?”
We have to set the example for others – we have to start the positive behaviors and lead the charge. It’s our duty as car enthusiasts. It’s our duty as lovers of the auto industry. 
Pledging to do better I write this letter today to ask you to join me in taking not just the Distraction Free Fridays pledge, but the EVERYDAY pledge, to put your mobile device aside and focus on the drive. It’s as simple as thinking twice before reaching for your cell phone, iPod, iPad, or other handheld technology while driving. It truly is a mindset. Please show your support and that you are taking the pledge by tweeting the following: I vow to put my device aside and focus on the drive, today and every day. Join me in combating #distracteddriving by RT’ing this. I know many of you already join me in the passion for this cause, and I thank you for your ongoing support and dedication to teaching others about the dangers of driving while distracted. Sincerely, Melanie Batenchuk

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