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Don’t Read This While Driving

Carter is on a well-deserved vacation this week, so the blog post is being written by the boss.  Bear with me.

It’s a working vacation for Carter … not working for PR/PR, but working to help a friend move cross-country.  Carter flew to Los Angeles to help his friend drive to Florida.  Having made the trek myself many years ago, I’m envious of the adventure Carter is having.  When I did it, there were no smartphones so we didn’t have texting or Angry Birds in our car.  Fortunately, there are two of them so they can trade off the driving and avoid the distraction of our electronic age.

The story of the young man on trial for allegedly texting while driving, causing a head-on collision and the death of the driver of the other car, has been discussed in the office recently.  Many Americans would scream to the heavens if you try to pry their cell phones from their gearshift-holding hands.  Many states already have hands-free cell phone use laws and others have no texting while driving laws.  The National Transportation Safety Board has called for a nation wide ban on all cell phone use in cars, while Chapel Hill, NC has already implemented this.  The state of origin of this story reminded me of another American institution which has waned in use in recent years. 

The parallel that popped into my head was the protests of tobacco users when the ban on smoking began.  Being of an age that remembers ashtrays at the isle ends of grocery stores, I also remember the Marlboro Country citizens’ outcry as their areas allowing exhaling shrank and eventually disappeared.  If you had told children of the ‘70s they would see a country where smoking was the exception, not the norm, they’d tell you you were crazy.  Yet as public opinion turned the popularity of puffing began its dénouement.

Popular opinion dictates what is socially acceptable and what is not.  Perceptions of common activities change over time and generations.  Consider these social norms no longer viewed through the same filters: views on sexual orientation, violence and nudity on television, tanning and sunscreen use.

Is it possible we are seeing the beginning of the end for cell phone use in cars?

– Russell Trahan
President, PR/PR Public Relations

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