‘Keep Your Hands on the Wheel! Love, Mom’

I’m sure you’ve heard statistics about teen drivers and texting, but just in case, let me repeat a few.

First of all, according to a poll conducted by AAA, some 94% of teens acknowledge the danger of texting while driving, but more than a third admit to doing it anyway. They just can’t get that smartphone out of their mitts—even when those busy fingers are supposed to be wrapped around a steering wheel.

On top of that, the National Safety Council reported that texting leads to 1.6 million crashes per year, and that 21% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents are distracted by their cell phones. Oh, and how about this one? Eleven teens die every day as a result of texting while driving.

Now, I’m not spilling all this frown-worthy stuff  just to make you feel bad. I bring it up because I heard that the folks at Oregon’s Department of Transportation have become so concerned with these dismal highway stats that they’ve decided to do something about it—and they went out and brought in the big dog.

They gave your mom a call.

That’s right, a new highway safety campaign dubbed “Messages From Mom” is filling freeway street signs with mother-approved missives. They deliver very straightforward instructions such as: “Drop the phone!” And if you happen to be one of those who tends to grumble, the signs follow up with a curt, “Because I said so, that’s why. Mom.” “Put the phone away … I’m going to count to 3,” is another golden oldie that the transportation authorities have pulled into the campaign.

Hopefully the teens, and everyone else confronted with such well-worn statements, will subliminally connect to a past ride in another car and do exactly as they’re told. I’m also hoping for a roadside declaration of: “If you don’t cut it out, you’re going to turn this car around and drive straight home!” That one always made me sit up and stop poking my sister. Maybe it could result in a few less phone pokes, too.

Who wrote this?

Bob Hoose is a senior associate editor for Plugged In, a producer/writer for Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey, a writer of plays and musicals and one-half of the former comedy/drama duo Custer & Hoose. He is a husband, father of three and a relatively new granddad.

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