JAMIE LaREAU

Dealers could help deliver a distracted-driving message

Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News.Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News.
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I foolishly thought I could stop preaching for a while about the hazards of distracted driving from cell phone use behind the wheel.

But today I saw a report about a 21-year-old man who drove off a bridge as he was texting while driving. After major surgery and learning to walk and talk again, the man admits he’s lucky to be alive.

Earlier this week, news footage appeared of a man walking through a subway station while talking on his cell phone. He was so distracted by his conversation that he walked off the platform, falling onto the tracks.

Fortunately, no train was approaching and he was OK.

Both stories show that people cannot pay full attention to operating a motor vehicle (or even walking, for that matter) while talking or texting on a cell phone.

Yet such distraction is a problem society struggles to solve. The solution has to come through education efforts, much like those to combat drinking and driving did.

Car dealers could help.

When I was buying a car in 2008, the dealership had a video looping in the showroom demonstrating all the safety features the brand builds into its products. Automakers and dealers could add a video showing various news reports or public service announcements that warn of the dangers of distracted driving.

And if the dealer’s brand offers in-vehicle technology that allows for hands-free calling and voice-activated texting, such videos would be great conversation starters to secure sales of the systems.

Imagine, making money and maybe saving lives at the same time.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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