How To Practice Safe Texting

For three years now, it has been illegal for anyone to send or receive a text message while driving in Indiana. There don’t seem to be any statewide statistics yet to show a positive impact on road safety, but give it time.

It often takes a multi-faceted approach, as well as time, to bring about social change. A couple of years ago, AT&T started the It Can Wait movement to reduce the number of automobile crashes caused by texting while driving and to spread the message that texting and driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving. With backing from 1,500 organizations and celebrity support, they launched a campaign through a documentary film, advertising, and social media to get across the point that no text is worth taking a life – whatever it is, it can wait.

AT&T research in three states – Florida, Illinois and Texas – shows a positive statistical correlation between specific It Can Wait campaign activities and a reduction in crashes from June 2012 to May 2013. They found that sharing the It Can Wait message through social media had the highest apparent correlation to crash reductions, which, they say, supports the premise that a word from a friend can be a powerful influence on someone’s decision not to text and drive.

Also along this line, the It Can Wait website ( encourages people to take an online pledge not to text and drive and to share that pledge through Facebook and Twitter. At the time of this writing, 5,036,393 people had done so.

You may be among those who assume most texting is done by teenagers. If so, you’re probably wrong. One survey found that nearly half of commuters (49 percent) admitted to texting while driving — a higher rate than the 43 percent of teens who own up to it. AT&T offers a couple of solutions for texters of any age. One is to use a hashtag, such as #x, to notify contacts who might be texting you that you are getting ready to drive and will be unable to reply to texts. Of course, the intent is for the driver to text that #x message before starting the car.

Another solution is the AT&T DriveMode App, available for free download from the It Can Wait website for AT&T customers who use Android and BlackBerry devices. Once installed, it silences incoming alerts, turns off text messaging and directs incoming calls to voicemail. It can be set to automatically start when it registers that the vehicle has reached 25 MPH and turn off after it is certain the vehicle has stopped, or it can be used in manual mode. If someone texts you while the app is on, it sends an auto reply message that you’re busy driving. You can, however, list up to five numbers that you can dial and receive calls from while the app is on. AT&T has recently enhanced the app by adding parental controls. Parents who download the DriveMode App to their child’s cellphone will be alerted if their teen turns the app off or adds a new number to the Allow List.

More than 40 percent of those surveyed who admitted to texting while driving said it had become a habit. And habits are hard to break. What works for one person may not be effective for another. Try using #x for a while. Download the DriveMode app or something similar for your device. Go to the It Can Wait website and take the pledge. Or try putting your cell phone in the glove compartment or in the back seat while driving. Whatever works for you works for the good of us all.

If you have been injured or if you lost a loved one through the negligence of a driver who was distracted by a cell phone call or text message, we at McNeely Stephenson will give our complete attention to obtaining just compensation for your suffering. Call us at 1-317-825-5200.