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A couple of days ago, I nearly got hit by a car. Happens to people all the time — the near miss, the “if I’d been two inches more to the left, I’d be toast” type of scenario. Not to force a drama out of this, but I’m writing about it because of the nature of the driver’s distraction. She was clearly having an argument with someone on her cell phone. (Yeah, I get the irony, given what I do for a living.)

She didn’t stop, slow down or even end her conversation. It was like I wasn’t there. To her, I’m sure I wasn’t. She was too distracted to even notice the piece of background scenery wearing a tee-shirt and jeans.

According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use is responsible for six percent of all vehicular crashes each year. While six percent may not seem like much, it equates to 636,000 collisions annually. That’s over half a million completely preventable car accidents. No wonder cell phone use on the road has become a hot topic these days, both in the news and on legislative agendas.

In addition to doing battle with drunk driving, accidental prescription overdoses, workplace injuries and senior falls, the Council has taken up the fight against mobile phone use while driving. Its goal is not just to promote safety practices and push for legislative bans, but also to make the behavior socially unacceptable.

Creating a new cultural norm is no small feat. To aid the cause, the Council recently released a YouTube video aimed at inspiring and informing the public. In the clip, David Teater and Jennifer Smith discuss the loss of their loved ones, who were killed in accidents caused by drivers distracted by mobile devices, and make a plea to people to stop using them while on the road.

Generally, I’m no fan of melancholic piano solo soundtracks or other melodramatic techniques aimed at pulling the heartstrings, but it is totally appropriate here. People need to get how devastating these types of collisions are for the victims and their families. Hearing Teater and Smith mourn the loss of their family members can only evoke sympathy and hopefully some activism.

I thought this was a good cause before, but after my recent experience, consider me a staunch supporter. I made a donation to the effort at the NSC microsite. If you’d like to make one too, click here.

The vid follows below. Don’t be shy about forwarding it around — especially to the worst offenders you know.



[via Just Another Mobile Phone Blog]

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