In 2014, 3,179 drivers were killed and another 432,000 were injured as a result of distracted driving.
These statistics can appear distant and removed, but in a movement led by American Advertising Federation of Northeast Tennessee, people in the Tri-Cities and beyond are being asked to join the #BecauseEW campaign.
The AAF Northeast Tennessee decided to implement the campaign after one of those statistics became personal. Board member Bill Jones said a fellow board member was struck by a young lady on her cell phone.
“He sustained serious injury, but is doing much better now, I’m glad to say,” Jones said.
As a result, the firm is asking drivers to take a pledge to put their phones down and drive without unnecessary distractions for all of October.
Statistics and personal stories serve their purpose, Jones said, but to particularly reach young drivers, typically a more distracted group, the firm believes a hashtag and social media movement is the best way to connect.
“We decided to take the ‘Nobody wants to be thought of as lame, uncool or gross’ approach with #BecauseEW,” Jones said. “It’s a more lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek angle that still communicates the serious message of distracted driving.”
With the pledge AAF Northeast Tennessee is asking of drivers, particularly college students, the organization will also be sending out support emails, tips, resources and encouragement.
“The #BecauseEW campaign tries to paint distracted driving as a nasty habit that is looked down on by your peers,” Jones said, hence the exclamatory word of disgust: “ew.”
According to the campaign’s website, a survey by Erie Insurance showed that texting while driving was not the only indiscretion — distractions also come due to a driver checking his or her navigation system, changing music, and even changing clothes or brushing their teeth. Even while using a GPS or listening to music seems like a necessity while driving — and are not discouraged from being on entirely — #BecauseEW is asking drivers to not be distracting themselves while behind the wheel.
To officially take the pledge, visit becauseew.com.