group of men giving the thumbs up with thumbnails painted red

Red Thumb Reminder campaign photo posted on Twitter by Crystal Morgan

Starting today, the Colorado Department of Transportation is asking all state employees and the public to paint their texting thumbnails red as a commitment to put an end to distracted driving, as Monte Whaley reports for The Denver Post. He quotes CDOT Communications Director Amy Ford: “By painting your thumbnail red, you have a visual reminder to put your phone down when driving.”

CDOT is asking everyone to post selfies of their red thumbnails on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtags #redthumbreminder, #SaveCDOTcrews, and #moveover, Whaley writes. CDOT will also post photos of people and groups displaying their red thumbnails, he adds.

Whaley notes that CDOT mentioned the Red Thumb Reminder campaign earlier this year, in a press release that began this way:

The only thing less predictable than Colorado weather in the spring is a driver texting alongside you. They might as well be wearing a blindfold.

The press release says the Red Thumb Reminder campaign was launched in 2013 by Steve Babcock and Evolution Bureau of Boulder, a branding company. Babcock writes on his site that he was inspired to create the Red Thumb Reminder campaign by his daughter’s tying a piece of yarn around her finger to remember something for school. He writes that, as silly as it seemed, the red thumbnail “totally worked” to prevent him from texting while driving. “And now my hope is that it’ll work for everyone else,” he adds.

Several state vehicles were involved in accidents in which drivers hit CDOT cars because of distracted driving, Whaley writes. Since the start of the year, 22 Colorado state vehicles have been hit; three of them within a five-day period, he writes. Nationwide, CDOT’s press release says, more than 421,000 people were injured in 2012 in crashes involving a distracted driver. The press release points out that each time a driver sends or reads a text message, his or her eyes are diverted from the road for enough time to drive the length of a football field at 55 MPH blindfolded, an average of 4.6 seconds.

CDOT is also distributing a series of brochures, posters, and “window clings,” all using the tagline, “A Text is a Five Second Blindfold.” The department is committed to reducing fatal and injury crashes caused by distracted driving.

You can follow the Red Thumb Reminder campaign on Twitter.

Here is a video about the Red Thumb Reminder campaign:

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