Nickinsons, three

It's not a sexy issue, but kudos to the U.S. mobile operators for coming together against texting and driving

We'll get to those smiling faces up there in a minute. But, first, perhaps the timing could have been a little better. Tucked between a little overexposure of the NVIDIA Shield and the BlackBerry Live keynote -- and just a day before Google I/O kicks off -- the four major U.S. cell phone operators joined together to announce their support for the "It Can Wait" campaign, an initiative started by AT&T to keep drivers from texting while they're behind the wheel.

It Can WaitSprint has had its own campaign, and it should be commended for that. But it's a combined effort that's needed, and, starting May 20, a combined effort is what we'll see. Millions of dollars in what essentially is advertising money is going into this. Sure, you'll see the brand names. Sprint. AT&T. Verizon. T-Mobile. And many others. But it's the message that's truly important.

No matter the phone, no matter the operating system -- and, really, no matter what sort of hands-free whiz-bang system you might have rigged up in your car, any time you take your eyes off the road, you're putting us all at risk. Everyone. You, driving the car. Your friends and family inside the car. Those of us in the cars around you. The kids playing on the street.

I'm as hypocritical as anyone. It's hard, I know. (And I work for a company that sells these whiz-bang hands-free devices. What the hell is my excuse, then?) And chances are you can glance down for a second, and nothing will happen.

Until it does.

The "It Can Wait" campaign focuses on texting, but the message, as is the name, is universal. Just a quick glimpse to see who that e-mail was from, even if you're not going to answer it. A peek at your favorite RSS feed, to make sure you didn't miss anything "important." A quick phone call -- hey, you're a good driver. No big deal.

That is my wife and our kids up there. Shannon, Mia and Isabella. I'm her husband. Their father. I owe it to them to avoid doing stupid things whenever possible. (Anyone who's been in a room with me for more than 5 minutes knows that's often easier said than done.) I owe it to them -- hell, I owe it to everyone around me -- to keep that damn phone in my pocket when I'm driving. And so do you. Looking at that picture above helps me remember that.

Let's not be naive, though. We're still going to see folks on their phones in the car. I'm still going to struggle with not stealing a quick glance. But not playing with your phone while you're behind the wheel is that important an issue. There's really no excuse for this sort of tragedy, given how easy it is to not pick up the phone in the car.

But I'm still working on it. I'll get better at it. And, most of all, I need to set that example for my kids. 

Thanks in advance, from myself, my wife and my children.


Reader comments

The most important story you'll probably miss this week


It's surprising that more and more adults are starting to do this. What do they have to check?Facebook? Linkedin? Haha

Because of related deaths it's illegal to do this in the UK. But I'm the glad the the Telcos are doing this! +1 for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mob and VZW!

Same here. I drive for my job, and I really need to be better about realizing that anything that comes through on my phone, can wait. Nice looking family, Phil.

How often do we see all Four Major carriers come together, so when they do you know it's important. Absolutely each one of our responsibilities(especially as tech enthusiasts) to set an example for the rest of people around us. We love our devices but remember devices can be replaced, People cannot be..

I'm not normally cynical, but I almost feel as though the carriers are getting some kind of gov't kick back, tax exemptions, free advertising space or something besides even the fact that this makes them look like the "good guys."

I definitely 100% feel this is a good campaign, and a great way to spend money. But I just feel like the carriers can't really be in this for the sake of charity work and they're making money on this somewhere, if even only from advertising.

I have personal experience in this subject. A friend of mine (beautiful smart girl, recent grad. from UCLA, doing great in her life. Two years ago she was texting/driving 405S, traffic stopped and she pretty much drove through a Toyota Prius and killed the young girl driving. They made an example of her and she's still in prison in LA county.

@Phil - your family is beautiful. Crazy how one of your girls looks like you and the other your wife.

Doing good when there's nothing in it for you is laudable, but that's no reason to diminish the good that's done for a profit. That's what capitalism is all about.

Well said Phil. I admit I check my phone but I try my hardest not to answer calls or text.

Hopefully with all the major carriers pushing this we will start to see a change. In my state it is a first offense if you are on the phone at all allowing officers to pull you over and ticket you just for that. I hope more states follow this.

I commute to work everyday and it is plain scary driving, you have to be on your toes watching out for other drivers who just wander into you lane.

It is up to the individual state. And it's still legal in most states. This problem rivals drunk driving.

Texting while driving is not legal in most states. It happens to be illegal in 39 states and the District of Columbia. The only states that do not prohibit texting while driving are Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

When I see people looking down at their phone on the highway I like to get their attention and motion for them to keep their eyes on the road. Think Robert DeNiro in Meet the Parents.

It can be tough at times to ignore that little notification when it comes through. But as a civilization, we went so many years without mobile phones in cars and 24/7 access, that you'd think we'd be able to not need companies to spend millions of dollars spreading a common sense message.

I actually practice road race when I see people driving egregiously using a mobile ... swerving or slowing and surging while talking ... not seeing anything in their left peripheral vision while holding a phone to that ear. I call the state troopers. I flash my headlights. I pull alongside and honk my horn until the dumbass starts noticing (and of course everyone nearby has already noticed), maybe even has trouble with that conversation.

Okay, I don't do it all the time, or even often. But frequently, for the worst offenders (and I see a lot of them on I-40 here in Raleigh/RTP). My only consolation, hoping that maybe just maybe I'm saving a life or preventing a multi-car pileup.

My car has a superb hands-free system integrated right into the stereo, steering wheel, etc. I can call and answer calls, and talk without taking my eyes off the road, my hands off the controls. Guess what? I'm still distracted. I still catch myself being less aware, less responsive, even changing my driving if I'm DWY (driving while yakking). So I consider my hands-free system emergency equipment, not a way to call ahead to Jason's or Pei Wei for dindin. For that, I pull over, find a parking spot, and sit and relax while talking.

We need more people who think that way. What'll it take?

That's quite a long post, but I agree. I also drive on I-40 daily (The Triad area of North Carolina) and it is quite scary at times. I go out of my way to NOT be on my phone in the car. When I was younger and dumber in high school I had a few close calls that scared me enough to stop. Plus now that I'm married I have someone else to think of while driving.

Pulling over is the way to go. I saw a guy texting while riding a motorcycle. So I tried to get a video of it, while I was driving. How f'd up is that? No more for me.

This was too long of a read, try to shorten it up next time to be courteous to those of us that are driving.

We'll said Phil. I am in the same boat, I have a beautiful wife and four children yet I still find myself looking at my phone from time to time even though I make an effort not to. It's hard, but we all need to try harder.

i'm all for this texting can wait thing. but if they try some crap that makes my phone useless while i'm driving through some software update i'll be quite mad.

SN: Distracted driving saved my life. I was texting at a red light at a big intersection in my town. The light was green and of course i was not moving. The guy behind me beeped at me to get me going, and some idiot in a subaru ran the red and clipped the front of my car. I could not see down that 2nd lane because of a big rig in the other lane concealing the part by the light. If i had went when it was green he would have t boned me doing 40 mph. I guess that is the one exception to that rule.

I don't text and drive. In fact I don't text at all...not into it. I don't look at my phone while in the presence of others I am talking with and certainly not at any meals - its' just plain rude.

Nice children. Nice wife and I like that stove in the background too.

What? You mean you're considerate of others? How bizarre! Are you from another planet?

Seriously, I'm the same way. I can't stand it when I'm talking to someone or at dinner and they take a call or spend their time playing on their phone. I guess we're old school where we were taught how to properly interact with other people...

How about people just learn how to drive? I think that's the biggest issue, is distracted, moronic driving.

Checking your phone while in stop and go traffic, or any traffic at all is retarded. So is changing the station on most modern cars with a touch screen (looking at you Prius). Dead stop in traffic? Where is the harm in that? Long flat stretch of I80 in the day time where no one is around?

What about the people who put on makeup or eat in the car? How's that less/more dangerous?

Bottom line, why the hell are people such horrible drivers?

Good on you guys for highlighting this. It is an important topic and it often gets lost in the discussion about gadgets and culture.

Yep. I was almost hit head on by a woman on a phone. I swerved and almost ran off the road to avoid being hit. The person behind me wasn't so lucky. He tried to swerve off the road behind me, but she had drifted too far over into our lane. Hit the guy head on. Totaled his car, but at least he was not injured seriously. First words out of her mouth? "Sorry, I was on the phone with my boyfriend." Really? I hope the conversation was so important that it was worth possibly killing someone.

Yes, I'm just as guilty but lord knows I try to look away when my phone pings, beeps, vibrates or lights up. Sad part is I preach to my kids about not doing this, and get mad when I find out about accidents that could have been avoided should the phone had not been a factor...then in full hypocrisy, I continue to do the same.

Well written Phil, thanks for the reminder. All of us who are offenders of this need a quick reminder every so often of how stupid we are for not putting down our phones after clicking our seat belts in (which is another huge issue, but that's for another conversation).

On the other hand, if you're going to drive off the road into a telephone pole, you're welcome to do so, far as I'm concerned. If you're stupid enough to text and drive, please do so and improve the gene pool by removing yourself from it.

The problem is that on their way to that well - deserved light pole, their stupidity can take out other innocent people!

Well written, Phil. Even if this was written just to remind you what is important and to kick a bad habit, its a truly important piece of writing. Thanks for sharing.

Oh!!! This topic heading and family photo definitely caught my attention! Thank you for sharing this important message/reminder. It can and will save lives. My family means the world to me, and upon seeing this on Android Central really brings it home!

BTW, Phil, you have a beautiful family!

So many replies saying how dangerous it is, yet most claim difficulty in ignoring the notification. You are too attached to your phone.
Who or what in your life is so important that risking a life is worth a response?

Just pull off the road and stop if texting or reading a text is so damn important. If you don't want to pull over, then keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and your focus on driving. If we can put a man on the moon...

i saw a freaking dumbass the other day, driving with his stupid ipad on the steering wheel!! He was reading and driving!! WTF!! He had a kid in the back seat!! He was driving 10 MPH below the speed limit, i had to get next to him and tell him to stop and freaking drive!!

He didnt listen!! :(

Phil, ur wife looks like Tina Fey!! :)

I was rear ended in my prius by a woman on her phone. My car is fixed, but my neck and back are a mess. I got really serious about not using my phone in my car, but am amazed by how hard it is.

Phil, check out an app called TXT ME L8R. Besides blocking the functions of the phone while its moving it also disables the beep notification and the blinking light if you have received a in-coming call. It also has an auto reply so the senders of messages get the text "TXT ME L8R - I'm Driving".

Nice looking family Phil! Mia and Isabella are in my top 3 names if I were to have a girl ... third name being Sophia :-)

Great write up as well... people need to cut this type of crap out. Too many people's lives have been ruined or ended from text messages and phone calls and other stupid crap like reading or watching videos while driving. People, especially the mutants from outer space on the road in New Jersey, boggle my mind on a minute to mine basis.

Use your heads for a change and wait till you get to wherever you're going before it costs you and/or someone else a life

Very good what all you said Phil. Thank you. Lovely family. Many good comments also. Me included we all to some degree or another are guilty.

Great article, great comments...
Hope there's plenty more articles like this in the mainstream media that help people to think about this issue and their / or responsibilities....

I am in fire/EMS. For the last 23 years I've worked in a fairly major metropolitan area with a major interstate highway running right through the middle of where I work. While I know collisions happen, I've never personally been on a call I could attribute to driving and texting. Not only that, but I don't know anyone in my sizeable personal network with this experience. As I said, collisions do occur, and people sometimes die, but that's the nature of the beast in regard to motor vehicles. Personally, I'm not afraid of people driving and texting, but I'm still afraid of drunk drivers, particularly late at night or early in the morning. Say what you will, or believe what you will, but I don't believe this is the huge issue everyone makes it out to be.