YoureNeverAloneBy Lori Lee, AT&T

You’re driving alone. You hear the ding of your smartphone. Do you grab it and look at the screen?

The answer for more than 6-in-10 of us (64%) is yes.

Interestingly, the answer changes when we have company. In fact, the same research shows that only 36% of drivers look at their smartphone screens with passengers in the car. If you’re driving with a child in the car, only 30% look at their screens.

To learn why we make these choices, we look to behavioral economics, a fascinating field of social science research that examines why we do what we do.

And it’s how we plan to take our It Can Wait campaign to the next level in the coming months.

For starters, we’re leveraging social science as the strategy behind our latest advertising campaign. We created it to help all of us see “driving alone” differently.

While we may be alone in the car, we are of course, never alone on the road.

And while we may think we’re only endangering ourselves if we look at our smartphone screens behind the wheel, we’re actually putting everyone else on the road at risk. It’s time to recognize that our world is bigger than the inside of our car. Much bigger.

Our new advertising campaign explores just that—our paradoxical behavior. You can see the new 30-second spot starting today and a full-length film in coming days. Over the next few weeks, you’ll see this message across TV, print, radio, social and digital.

We’re on a mission to show distracted driving is not only dangerous, but wrong. Most everyone will admit it’s dangerous, but we must further open their eyes. It’s an inappropriate and selfish behavior.

Changing the social norm around distracted driving is essential.

So we’ve enlisted some of the brightest minds in behavioral economics and social psychology to help us uncover new insights and test them in field trials. We hope they can help us convince everyone to stop looking at their smartphone screens while driving. We’re working with:

  • Freakonomics, to test how technologies, including smartphone apps and anonymized user data analysis, can help us understand motivations and drive behavior change.
  • ideas42, a nonprofit that applies behavioral science to social problems. We’ll team up with them to host a hackathon, bringing together experts from the social sciences to develop cutting-edge innovations we can test through real-world field trials.
  • Icek Ajzen, a leader in the field of behavioral science, will help us apply social and behavioral science insights to improve existing program elements and messaging.
  • Universities to tap into their behavioral studies programs for ideas on new ways to tackle the problem.

I’m very excited about this new direction for It Can Wait. In the 6 years since AT&T launched the campaign, we and our collaborators have achieved many meaningful milestones on our journey to drive awareness, pledges and app downloads. In addition, we’re a founding member of Together for Safer Roads Coalition (TSR). TSR brings together global companies to help improve road safety and reduce deaths and injuries from crashes.

But as smartphones and mobile apps have become ubiquitous, distracted driving has become even more tempting and prevalent. So we press on.

Please join the more than 2,500 organizations and tens of thousands of individuals who are helping us spread the word.

It can, should and must wait! Watch the full 3 minute video here.
Please share it with your friends and family.  

1 Cellphone survey with 1,003 respondents conducted by Braun Research. Survey fielded August 18-23, 2015. Nationally representative sample (ages 16-65, drive and use smartphone apps).

2 Ongoing online survey with 623 respondents conducted by Added Value. Data represented here was collected May 30-June 26, 2016. National panel sample (ages 15-54, drive and have a smartphone).