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ADOT wants your driving safety slogan

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Cary S. Hines's picture

A couple of summers ago, I wrote an editorial titled “Solipsism here to stay.” It was after my first trip to the Grand Canyon, where I had to duck and dodge to avoid being smacked by a selfie stick. They were everywhere!

I’d only recently heard of selfie sticks. I’d never even seen one up till that point. I like to think of myself as being pretty plugged in, but I sure felt like a dinosaur as my selfie stickless group was definitely in the minority.

I later found out that Disneyland had banned them, but that they were also prolific in places such as Las Vegas. Well, I’m happy to report that after finally returning to Sin City after way too many years, I only saw one.

However, the scores of visitors who walked through every casino without looking up from their phones once, zigzagging back and forth as if they were being chased by an incredibly slow alligator as my husband and I tried to get around them weren’t any better. Even worse were the ones barreling toward us forcing us to unclasp hands or take them down in a game of Red Rover. Yeah, we thought about it.

On a side note, I cannot fathom even needing to look at my cell phone when I’m in a casino, but maybe I’m still too taken with the bright lights, the rings and dings of the machines and the hot action on the craps table. I forget I even have a phone. It just can’t compare.

But back to the story. If I were a betting woman, and I am, I’d like to play a game called “Who texts and drives?” because I’m sure every one of those self-absorbed types do.

You were all wondering when I was gonna get to this part of the show, weren’t you?

I know, I know, I regularly harp on texting and driving. It’s because I value my life, the lives of my family and friends, complete strangers. Texting while driving puts all of those lives in danger, and for something so stupid! Something so unnecessary. Something that can wait.

Sharing the road with others piloting 3 tons of steel is hard enough. Believe it or not, car accidents happened before cell phones. So why introduce another factor? These narcissists can’t walk in a straight line while texting, what makes them think they can keep a car between the lines at 65 mph?

The Arizona Department of Transportation feels the same way. It’s constantly launching new campaigns aimed at eradicating distracted driving, it’s latest being a safety message contest. The Department is seeking a safety slogan to appear on those overhead message boards we all see on highways. You know, the clever messages such as, “Hello from the other side, buckle up and stay alive,” or “New year, new you, use your blinker.”

We’ve all wondered who comes up with those messages, and now we all get a chance to be the brains behind the cleverness. Go to azdot.gov/signcontest and submit your entry. The winning message will be displayed on signs statewide for two days in April. But hurry, the deadline is Feb. 19. Fifteen finalists will be selected to move on to the next round when their messages will be posted on ADOT’s website in March for the public to vote on.

The goal is to change behaviors by starting a dialogue that it’s not OK to drive distractedly.

Kevin Biesty, ADOT deputy director for policy, said, “At ADOT, we bring up the example of imagining someone walking into a preschool and lighting up a cigarette. Forget that it’s illegal; it’s completely socially unacceptable. No one would ever even think to do that, and if they did they’d be ostracized. That’s what we want to see happen to drivers that choose to make roads less safe for all of us. Tell them it’s not OK and it can’t happen anymore. We want to get to a point where impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding and aggressive driving are socially unacceptable, and the messages ADOT displays on signs are a good way to start those conversations.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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