Leadership Insights From Mike Pitcher

Don’t Let Texting and Driving Become Personal for You

Try this: Hold your phone in your right hand, use only one hand and type “Be right there.” That should’ve taken you about 4 to 5 seconds using just your thumb (simulating driving and texting). On a highway, that is like driving 100 yards blindfolded.

Despite the overwhelming evidence to support the dangers of distracted driving (with particular attention on texting and driving), thousands still do it daily. In a recent post by Bracken Darrell, head of Logitech, he calls the situation an epidemic, and I completely agree with him.

By recent estimates more than 4,000 drivers per year are killed by distracted driving in the United States alone. The way that these deaths are reported and tracked, I am confident that the number is much larger than what is reported. Over half of the deaths are not the driver that is being distracted, but rather the driver of another vehicle, a passenger in a car, or a pedestrian. On average, every day there are 11 deaths that occur due to distracted driving. That is 11 mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters that probably kissed someone good bye in the morning, and simply never made it back home. This number does not include the horrific and life changing injuries that occur every day with the same root cause, texting and driving.

There are TV and online campaigns, there’s driver training that warns of the dangers of texting and driving, and we see celebrities make commercials that state “it can wait”.


Multiple research indicates that our behavior is influenced most by our parents and our peers. If those closest to us do something, we pay attention; we watch closely. This is particularly true for teenagers who keep a very close eye on their parents’ behavior. In the workplace, we watch the behavior of our boss or supervisor (is the behavior consistent with his/her words?). I state these things because each of us has enormous influence on those around us. The decision to read or send a text message while driving is a TOTALLY PERSONAL DECISION! However, the decision has an incredible impact on others in your vehicle.

When I do the presentation, “How to Save a Life” on distracted driving, most audience members think I will be addressing how to save their life; I am not. Obviously, when we stop texting and driving, we significantly reduce our own chance of being involved in a fatal accident.  But the life I am talking about saving is that of your spouse, your partner, your children, or perhaps even a co-worker.

This epidemic that Bracken Darrell writes about is not going to simply go away. We have to attack the issue of distracted driving at a very personal level. Everyone thinks that it can never happen to them, “I’m too good of a driver to let that happen . . . ”

This is personal. Stop texting and driving. The life you save could be the most important person in your life. If you are a student, stop and watch the behavior of those around you. If you are a parent, stop and watch how your children respond. If you are a boss or a supervisor, stop texting and witness a change in your team. Our sphere of influence is much larger than we ever imagine.

Texting and driving is a personal choice. It’s your choice to make.

Mike Pitcher

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