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NHTSA Encourages “Designated Texters” for Driving Safety

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From Stop the texts. Stop the wrecks.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a new campaign to encourage drivers to “designate a texter,” as Rene Wisely reports for Edmunds Inside Line. The campaign, part of “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks,” suggests that instead of texting while driving, drivers: “Borrow thumbs from a friend. Or lend yours to a friend. Passengers get the privilege of texting while in motion.” Designating a texter can prevent many accidents, as a texting driver is 23 times more likely than a non-texting driver to get into a crash, according to NHTSA.

The designated texter campaign, which aims to prevent accidents caused by texting drivers, is inspired by the designated driver campaign, a concept that originated in Scandinavia in the 1920s, according to Wikipedia. A designated driver is a person who remains sober in order to drive a car in which those who are drinking alcohol are the passengers.

Designated driving appeared in the U.S. on a large scale in 1988 through the Harvard Alcohol Project, an initiative by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication. Wikipedia’s “Designated driver” page says:

With heavy involvement by television networks and Hollywood studios, the campaign popularized the concept through public service announcements, as well as the encouragement of drunk driving prevention messages and designated driver references in popular television programs, such as Cheers, L.A. Law, and The Cosby Show. The U.S. Department of Transportation used public affairs commercials with the phrase ‘friends don’t let friends drive drunk’.

A new survey by State Farm and Harris Interactive finds that 78% of teens said that when they have been passengers in a car, they have spoken up and pointed out a driver’s distracted behavior. And 84% of those teens said that after calling attention to the driver’s being distracted, the driver stopped driving distracted.

A press release about the survey appearing on quotes Navea Frazier, an 18-year-old Pennsylvania native as saying:

‘When I’m in a car with my friends or family, I say, ‘Hey, don’t do that. I’ll text for you.’ I’m the designated texter. And they always stop driving distracted. You never know what can happen in the blink of an eye. Texting doesn’t just endanger the driver but the passengers and the cars around you too.’

However, for many teens, the survey says, the attitude is, “Do as I say — not as I do.” Almost half (48%) of those one in five (16%) of teens who did not point out a driver’s distracted behavior while a passenger in their car said they did not speak up because they felt the driver could handle the distraction, the press release says.

In addition, the survey found that although the majority of teens tell others not to text and drive, 34% of them still participate in the distracting behavior when they drive.

The survey also found that teen girls were more than twice as likely as teen boys to say they would wait two or more months before applying for their driver’s license, because they felt their driving skills were not good enough.

State Farm commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct the July phone survey of 650 teens between the ages of 14 and 18, Larry Copeland writes for USA TODAY in an article appearing on The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4/5 percentage points. Copeland writes that the teens surveyed said the best deterrent to distracted driving is being in a crash or knowing someone who has been in one.

Using the survey results as a guide, and saying that some teens tune out to campaigns based on scare tactics, State Farm is launching a positive and supportive approach to teen driving safety called “Celebrate My Drive.” On Saturday, September 15, “Celebrate My Drive” events will take place in more than 300 communities across the U.S. As part of that campaign, to support teens as they learn to drive, State Farm will be giving away 14 $100,000 grants to high schools in the U.S. and Canada, and will give away 14 new cars.

And My Parking Sign reports that is giving away two free signs or label packs to high schools to discourage texting while driving. You can find that information at


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