It took 2.5 peaceful hours to reach Beverly Hills from San Diego. I pulled into the hotel’s valet and began to gather our belongings for check-in. Only then did I see a flurry of non-urgent text messages flood my iPhone’s screen.
It was the final day of my 21-day Distracted Driving Challenge but the first road trip I’d taken with AT&T DriveMode enabled, a tool that prevents drivers from being distracted by texts and other smartphone alerts. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the app during a drive this long but, on hindsight, enabling it resulted in a zen experience due to lack of that ever-so-familiar ding.
It was easier than I thought to detach a bit more from my smartphone while driving during these past three weeks. Here’s why.
1. I Knew I Needed to Do It
Distracted driving kills. We all know that, right? I, probably like you, know that I should not be touching my smartphone while driving. Period.
While I have never, ever sent a text while driving, I do automatically glance down at my console when I hear a text come through. That familiar ding triggers a reflex, at least for me. This can’t be good.
2. No Incoming Text to Stress Me Out
I feel anxious when I know a text that requires a reply is waiting on my smartphone screen. I rarely pull over to reply so tend to let it stew until I arrive at my destination. I’ve decided that I also feel more relaxed if I block texts from coming through while I’m driving. In this case, ignorance is bliss.
My DriveMode app is set up not to block phone calls from family and close friends. If they receive an auto-reply to a text they’ve sent me, they can always call if it is an emergency.
3. AT&T DriveMode Auto-Responds
AT&T DriveMode begins when your car reaches 15 mph and deactivates when speeds drop to below 15 mph for 2-3 minutes. The app’s main job is to block alerts, block incoming texts and auto-respond to incoming texts. You’ll know it’s enabled when this red bar appears.
You can customize what your auto-response says. Its purpose is just to let the sender know that you’re driving and will reply later. I should have edited my response to say that I’m driving to Beverly Hills so it might be a few hours before I replied… I didn’t think of that, but will do similar next time!
4. I Can Still Use Other Apps
I actually forgot that the app was enabled during my long drive because it automatically turns itself on and off.
Without any extra effort, I was still able to use smartphone GPS to navigate LA traffic and play music from my iTunes library just like usual. It’s very easy to use.
My one critique of the DriveMode app is that I wish I could enable it so that I can NOT check email. I really do have over 200k unread. I receive so many in a day that it is nearly impossible to keep up with them so occasionally there is temptation to check them at stoplights.
5. Good Habits Tend to Stick
I was skeptical that taking an online pledge could really change behavior but now am a believer. It does make you very aware of your smartphone usage while in the car. Instead of taking care of route changes at stoplights or snapping a random photo, I handed the phone it to my daughter instead.
The Bottom Line
Texting really can wait. You don’t need to do it while driving. If you’re at all tempted or would like to support this important campaign, please:
- download AT&T DriveMode on Apple or Google Play
- be a part of the 16 in ’16 by taking the distracted driving pledge here.
- share your pledge on social media using #ItCanWait for an opportunity to win Google Cardboard or It Can Wait swag.
Will you take the pledge, too?
*Thank you to AT&T for sponsoring this post. I’m happy to spread awareness for such an important campaign.