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Keep it Hands Free

How far would you be willing to drive at highway speeds on the interstate while blindfolded? The length of a football field? If you check texts while cruising along, that’s effectively what you’re doing.

By now, we’ve all heard dozens of facts and stats on the matter, and we know the bottom line is that when we drivers give our attention to our phones, we are taking it away from the business of safely piloting thousands of pounds of steel and glass – and compromising the safety of everyone nearby.

Yet many of us still find it impossible to resist the siren song of our phones, and reach for them while behind the wheel. How do we stop this dangerous behavior? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Put your phone on silent or turn it off before you get in the car. Even better, put it in a bag or case in the back seat or trunk, where you won’t be tempted to reach for it while in motion.
  • If you must have the phone nearby and on (and think – is it really a “must?”), then check out apps like Detext or AT&T’s DriveMode that disable texting while you’re driving and automatically send replies to incoming texts to let folks know you’re unavailable. (Some apps will do things like read your texts to you and let you reply to them via voice, hands-free, but that’s still a distraction that can cause an accident.)
  • Tell others you’re planning to change your behavior and ask them to hold you accountable. Do the same for them. The people who ride with you will feel safer, and you will, too.

One way to hold yourself to the new standard is to visit Text Free Zone ( and take the no-texts-while-driving pledge. Co-op and WPTZ /WNNE television are sponsoring this awareness campaign. The site features more information on why texting and driving is a dangerous combination, tips to help you break the habit, and even a certificate you can print to remind you of the promise you’ve made.

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