Texting

“Manifesto”, the Brutal Reality of Texting and Driving.

One of my biggest pet peeves are people who text and drive. I don’t care if you are rolling or stopped, if you are on your phone behind the wheel, you’re probably a menace. You’re the person weaving across lanes, not paying attention when the light turns green, stopping a length and a half behind the car in front of you, etc. Banning texting and driving is hard to enforce, just like banning talking on your phone without a hands free kit. Because it’s a hard to enforce law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched grisly new ads combatting distracted drivers with the slogan “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” There are two versions of the TV spot below. Both have the same brutal reality and outcome. 

The NHTSA released a report this April estimating that 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 were injured in crashes caused by distracted driving in 2012. It also states that federally funded enforcement programs combined with PSAs like these, reduced the dangerous practice of texting and driving from 4.1 percent to 2.7 percent in California and from 4.5 percent to 3.0 percent in Delaware alone. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. To further ram this message home, the Department of Transportation is coordinating with law enforcement for a national crackdown on cell phone use while behind the wheel from April 10-15. I hope it works.

So You Want to Stop People From Texting and Driving.

iphone4-1This morning while I was drinking my coffee and watching the news, there was a story on Good Morning America about New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo cracking down on texting and driving. I say you go governor. The thing is, I think there is a much easier and cheaper solution to the problem. One that doesn’t involve law enforcement, and can be easily implemented by hand set manufacturers, and software developers.

Smartphones are rapidly becoming the standard in the United States. Every smartphone on the market has one universal feature. They know where they are and how fast they are moving thanks to motion detection, GPS, and any number of other hardware and software specific features of the handset. So, why don’t we simply require smartphone manufacturers to disable texting if the phone is traveling in any direction faster than 10 miles per hour? Now before you can say what about when I’m riding on a plane, or high-speed train? If the phone is traveling faster than, lets say 120 miles per hour, texting services work.

I think this is a fairly straightforward, easy to implement solution. It could be achieved with a simple software update to iOS, Android, and Windows mobile operating system, and it could be adjusted with updates in the future. It wouldn’t get every phone in use, but it would probably get about 80 percent or more.

So I’m thinking it could work like this:

  • If my phone is moving faster than 10 miles per hour in any direction I can’t text
  • When I get to a stop light texting remains inactive for 30 seconds (the typical length of a stoplight)
  • If I travel faster than X mph my phone lets me text again.

It might piss people off at first, but so did seat belts and other devices that have made driving a hell of a lot safer in the last 100 years.

WhatsApp. 18 Billion Messages in 24 Hours.

If you have any doubts about how social media has impacted everything from the greeting card industry, to the postal service look no further than WhatsApp. The mobile messaging service processed a record shattering 18 billion messages on New Year’s Eve. That’s right, 18 billion messages featuring emoticons, text effects, pictures, etc. in 24 hours. That’s 75 million direct messages an hour, worldwide.

The 18 billion breaks down to 11 billion outbound and 7 billion inbound messages. The outbound figure is dramatically higher because outbound messages sent to a group reflect the total number of people. Inbound messages count as one.

If you are unfamiliar with WhatsApp, it is a cross-platform mobile messaging application that allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends.

If I were in the business of helping people communicate in any form, I think I’d be taking a very hard look at this app and how I could do something similar, or better.

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“where u at” AT&T’s Award Winning Integrated Texting Campaign.

I have zero tolerance for anyone that texts and drives, and I’m not to fond of drivers with a handset slapped next to the side of their head either. Having spent the last 9 days dealing with an auto accident that should have left my car totaled, but unfortunately won’t thanks to greed on the insurance companies behalf; I thought I would post a little something about driver safety.

AT&T has won international acclaim with the launch of “The Last Text”, road safety campaign. The campaign was awarded with a Silver Integrated Lion at Cannes International Festival of Creativity earlier this year. The campaign is built around a 10-minute documentary short that features the lives of people whose lives have been altered by texting while driving.

““Where u at.” Those three words made up the last text message Mariah West read before her car crashed into a bridge, ending her life.””


Mariah is one of eight individuals featured in the film which is distributed to schools, safety organizations, and government agencies throughout the United States. The campaign also includes print and radio advertisements, along with a series of shorted film clips available on YouTube.

The campaign was designed to help alert people to the dangers of texting & driving, and through Social Media connections, it encouraged hundreds of thousands of families to sign AT&T’s Facebook pledge. The campaign has garnered national media attention from CNN, to ABC’s Good Morning America, and The White House Blog. The documentary has had millions of hits on YouTube and, thanks to partnerships with several major safety organizations, is now included in driver’s education classes across the country.

“The Last Text” was developed at BBDO New York.