3 minute read
This year, almost everything is different. Distracted Driving Awareness Month (DDAM) has been no exception. Most Aprils, I spend the month on the road, talking to students all over the United States about digital distraction on their streets and in their communities. In 2020, DDAM was postponed due to the incredible uncertainty we faced across the globe. In 2021, things are beginning to look up, but most of this important month for SADD and TextLess Live More has been spent, much like all other events in the past 14 months, behind a screen.
For an organization that promotes not only attentive driving but also maintaining a healthy relationship with our devices and Living More by stepping out from behind our screens, this creates a tricky and fascinating Catch-22 that the TextLess Live More Team has spent much of this pandemic discussing.
The truth is, the way we have been living throughout the course of the COVID-19 virus really epitomizes a key point that we believe in at TLLM:
Technology is not an inherent evil, despite the fact that nearly 9 people are killed every day in distracted driving crashes. Technology is an incredible tool, and when used properly can enhance our lives and work to build and maintain connections with the people we love. We’ve seen this over the course of this quarantine.
However, we’ve also seen in 20/20 vision that there really can be too much of a good thing. Zoom fatigue and other tech burnout is a familiar feeling for all of us as we continue to learn, work, and socialize in large part via screens. Our digital dependence is at an all-time high, and the impact of all this is still unknown.
This means that it is more important than ever to create boundaries with our devices. The most important one is to never engage with your phone behind the wheel. Create a healthy habit by putting your phone in the same place every time you get in the driver’s seat, whether it’s face down in the passenger seat, in the glove compartment, or in the backseat. Consider you boundaries outside of the car as well. Good boundary-setting questions to consider are: when is it appropriate to use my phone? Is using my phone right now safe? Is it kind? How will looking at my phone in this circumstance affect the people around me? How will it affect my experience in this moment?
Asking yourself these questions and bringing them up as a discussion with family and friends is a crucial first step to being a more attentive, present, and connected global and digital citizen. Raising the TLLM mission in meaningful dialogues like these is an amazing way to celebrate Distracted Driving Awareness Month and to Live More. We can’t wait to hear how it goes!
Marie McGrath is the Director of Strategic Partnerships & TextLess Live More at SADD. TextLess Live More is a student-led, peer-to-peer, national awareness campaign with a mission to end distracted driving, prevent tragic crashes, and save lives, and SADD’s premiere distracted driving partner. Marie holds a BA in English and Communication from Boston College and a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Florida. She is also a poet.