OMG! Can 'Glee' stop u from driving & texting? LOL!

Automotive News | August 23, 2012 - 12:05 pm EST

Now we've done it, America. I hope we're happy with ourselves.

We didn't listen when cellphones started to become common and it quickly became obvious that trying to press tiny buttons on a phone while barreling down a highway is probably not a great idea. We LOL'd and kept going.

We didn't listen as 39 states outlawed texting while driving. We just started holding our phones lower, which makes us less likely to accidentally catch a glimpse of the road once in a while.

We didn't even listen to Peter Frampton. "Can u say whiplash? People put the phones down!" he wrote on Twitter -- presumably while stationary -- after a "texting woman driver" rear-ended his car in Los Angeles traffic last month.

So really, we left the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration little choice but to take the frightening, disappointing and downright draconian steps that it revealed this week: It helped create a series of anti-texting public-service announcements using scenes from the Fox TV series "Glee."

We've officially become a society for which "Glee" now offers the best chance of keeping Americans from endangering themselves and others simply because they couldn't wait five minutes to let their friends know that they're five minutes away.

It's a show with high-school students and teachers who sing and dance at odd times and throw slushies at each other. (OK, I admit I watched the first season.)

Yet we've sunk to the point where our government has decided that these annoying people can give us some important life lessons.

"Distracted driving is an epidemic on our roadways, and our youngest and most inexperienced drivers are often the most at risk," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "Young people across the country watch 'Glee,' and we're thrilled to partner with the show to spread the word that texting and driving don't mix."

The ads are part of a national campaign, called "Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks," that started last October. NHTSA, which is heading the campaign along with the Ad Council and numerous state attorneys general, says about one in 10 crash fatalities -- about 3,100 in 2010 -- is caused by distracted driving. The agency also says people who text behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to crash.

Its Web site about distracted driving, www.distraction.gov, has links to positively horrible stories about what can happen when people text and drive. There's the 21-year-old Texan who recently drove off a bridge moments after typing to a friend, "I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident." He survived, with a broken neck, fractured skull and traumatic brain injuries, and now says it's his "higher purpose" to tell others the dangers of what he did.

Shouldn't that type of story be enough?

But if fear of dying or going to jail doesn't deter us from texting while driving, consider this: By turning to "Glee," the government is showing that it's willing to take desperate measures to get us to finally, somehow, pay attention. And if we don't soon, worry about who will be drafted to beat some common sense into us next. The Kardashians? The cast of "Jersey Shore"? Are we going to let Snooki become a voice of reason?

Clearly, it's time we all agree to listen to the singing and dancing and slushie-throwing 26-year-olds pretending to be teenagers -- B4 we r 2 l8.

Nick Bunkley is an enterprise reporter for Automotive News.Nick Bunkley is an enterprise reporter for Automotive News.

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