A new public service announcement (PSA) will begin airing this week at Regal Cinemas and various gas station pumps across the nation. The PSA is part of a campaign by the U.S. Department of Transportation to educate teen drivers about the danger of distracted driving. The timing of the announcements is meant to coincide with the large number of teen drivers who will be on the roads during winter vacation, many in challenging weather conditions.
While teens are more likely to engage in several forms of distracted driving, including talking to friends, listening to music and eating, the campaign targets texting while driving. The campaign is referred to as "OMG" and uses common chatspeak slang to deliver a message of safety. Driving and texting do not mix. Anything that takes your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road endangers your life, your passengers' lives and the lives of everyone else on the road. The prevalence of texting among teens makes them the perfect targets for such a campaign.
This PSA is just the latest effort by the DOT to combat an epidemic of distracted driving. They began their efforts in 2009 with a national campaign and a website designed to teach people about the hazards posed by distracted driving. Thirty-five states, including Illinois, have banned text messaging while driving. Despite the laws against it, surveys show that people's attitudes toward texting while driving have not changed.
Hopefully the PSA helps teens make the right decision for themselves and everyone who shares the road with them. The ads can educate teens directly, or serve as a jumping off point for parents to discuss the dangers of distracted driving. Serious, even fatal car accidents are too often the result of texting while driving. Anything that can be done to avoid these terrible accidents deserves our attention and support.
Source: NHTSA.gov, "U.S. Department of Transportation Unveils 'OMG' PSA to Warn Teens About the Dangers of Distracted Driving," by Karen Aldana, 28 November 201