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App can help stop texts while driving

Our mobile devices have become so much a part of our lives that many of us would be lost without them. In the palms of our hands, we have the power to text, email, tweet or send a selfie to our friends. We instinctively reach for our cell phones when we hear a ring, chirp or feel the vibration.

How can we fight back against the urge to reach for our smart phone at the wrong time? It’s time to get the DNTXT word out and work together towards finally ending texting while driving.

By sharing DNTXT on your social networks before you get behind the wheel of a car, you’re letting your friends and family know that you’re about to drive and can’t respond until you safely reach your destination. You can also use DNTXT in a text conversation to pause it until you arrive.

You’re also letting your network know you have committed not to text and drive. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Here’s why.

New Mexico’s Department of Transportation in recent years has shared a partnership with AT&T with its campaign to end texting and driving.

The initial aim of AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign to end texting while driving was to raise awareness about the risks associated with texting behind the wheel. Since then, “It Can Wait” has evolved into a social movement focused on changing behaviors.

AT&T is now shifting its partnerships to solutions to prevent the behavior with new tools like the DNTXT app in New Mexico. The free app is available for Android and Apple phones as a tool to disable your phone while you drive.

What we’ve learned is that when friends and family share their commitment to never text and drive, it makes a difference. Sharing the message that no text is worth a life encourages others to follow suit.

Social norm research has shown that a word from a friend could be a powerful influence on someone’s decision not to text and drive. In one survey 78 percent of teens said they’re likely not to text and drive if friends tell them it’s wrong or stupid.

Now, four years after the first pledge, more than 5 million pledges nationwide have been made to never text and drive. More than 2,500 organizations along with tens of thousands of individuals have joined the movement to raise awareness and change behavior.

Gov. Susana Martinez issued a proclamation on Sept. 16th supporting the “It Can Wait” campaign, reminding the public that texting and driving is a serious matter that jeopardizes the safety of passengers, pedestrians and other drivers.

The NMDOT Traffic Safety Division will be purchasing a product called a reflection band which is a band you place around your rearview mirror reminding you not to text and drive. We will be providing them to the traveling public as a reminder to be practice safe driving. Information can be found on www.reflection-band.com

We’ve also learned that texting while driving isn’t just a fleeting behavior. It’s a habit — a very bad habit that’s hard to break. The good news is that technology can help.

Apps like DNTXT and AT&T’s DriveMode are simple to use and help us keep our commitment to never text and drive. When activated, these apps block text messages while you are driving and send responses that let those trying to reach you know you are driving and that you will respond when you arrive at your location. Both apps let others know you are serious about your commitment.

While our efforts of NMDOT and AT&T have produced results — especially in greater awareness of the problem — we have more to do. Together we would like to ask all of you to pledge or recommit to never text and drive.

Then, take your pledge up a notch. Share your commitment with family and friends, both directly and through your social networks, by using DNTXT to connect your efforts with other advocates. Then share DNTXT before you drive to pause the conversation all day long. Let’s “Get the DNTXT message Out” together!

Working together, we can share solutions to this problem. We can inspire others to never text and drive.

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