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For the last 21 days, I have been participating in the AT&T, It Can Wait, 21 Day Challenge To End Distracted Driving. This is a sponsored blog post and I was compensated by AT&T. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Going into this challenge, I had an important and personal reason for doing this… my daughters. My children have inspired me to do my best in every aspect of my life, and especially when it comes to keeping us all safe. Now that Maddie is driving, safe, non-distracted driving is even more important to me because I want to set a good example for her and I want her to understand why she too needs to make distracted driving a priority when she is behind the wheel.
6 years ago AT&T launched It Can Wait to help grow awareness of the dangers of smartphone distracted driving. It has inspired more than 5 million downloads of the free AT&T DriveMode® App, now available in Spanish and open to all carriers. They have worked with state departments of transportation on research that suggests a correlation between It Can Wait campaign activities and a reduction in crashes and collaborated with AT&T data scientists on research that shows how statewide anti-texting laws impact the rate of texting while driving.
I already drove as distraction free as possible when it came to my phone use behind the wheel, but during this challenge, I learned that even though I don’t use my phone when driving, even the notification sound can be distracting.
I always said that I kept my phone by me in the car in case of emergency, but I never thought to use AT&T’s DriveMode app (Apple or Google Play), which silences the notifications when you are driving. I learned during this challenge that there are so many solutions to distracted driving and that the right one is out there for everyone. If the app isn’t the right one for you, you can also move your phone far enough away that you can’t see or hear it, like into the trunk or hand it to someone else to hold if there are others in the car with you. It takes willpower in the beginning not to look down at your phone if you are used to doing it in the car, so using the app or moving your phone away from reach really helps.
The most important part of this challenge was the timing. Since experts say that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, sticking with it and using these tools to succeed for the whole 21 days is key. I noticed at the beginning of the challenge I was thinking about my phone more than I did before because it felt off limits. But within days, I started to care less. Towards the end, I didn’t think about my phone at all.
I even felt myself stepping away from my phone more often in other aspects of my life too… like when one of my girls wanted to go for a walk together. I ended up using, this time, to talk to them more about what distracted driving means, and why I was so dedicated to it ending. I feel like this is another one of those very important things that we should be talking to our kids about when they are young. We must also show them by our actions what non-distracted driving looks like so that we can break the cycle and truly end distracted driving once and for all.
AT&T has a goal to get 16 million pledges by the end of 2016! There is still time to join and take the AT&T pledge to commit to driving with zero distraction and the 21 Day Challenge.