NHTSA Using Twitter to Combat Distracted Driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. As part of their efforts to combat distracted driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has employed the use of the hashtag #justdrive in personally responding to Twitter users. The NHTSA campaign finds tweets mentioning or admitting to texting and driving and responds to them with an individualized message discouraging the practice. The social media campaign has drawn attention as an unusual choice for a government agency. The campaign is scheduled to run through the end of the month.

The statistics on distracted driving highlight the importance of curtailing this dangerous behavior. A 2011 survey conducted by the Ad Council found that 77 percent of young adult drivers are confident they can safety text while driving. That confidence is ill-founded. The NHTSA reports that more than 20 percent of crashes that lead to injury involve distracted driving. Another NHTSA study identified distracted driving as the most common cause of death among teenagers. The Twitter campaign is intended to target an audience that mistakenly believes it can combine driving and cell phone use safely. 

It is not clear if publicly calling out Twitter users for distracted driving is an effective deterrent. The NHTSA is raising awareness, as the tweets are often shared and commented upon. The trick will be to convince drivers that texting, tweeting, using Snapchat or otherwise engaging in cell phone use while behind the wheel is never worth it. To stay safe and avoid a potentially fatal car accident, you should eliminate distractions and just drive.

Sources: Consumerist, “NHTSA Shames Distracted Drivers With #JustDrive Twitter Hashtag,” by Ashlee Kieler, 25 April 2016

CCRCS.com, “Teen Texting & Driving” 

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