Kari Galassi was one of those moms. You know the ones, a super-efficient multitasker taking care of business and the to-do list while commanding an SUV full of little kids.
"I was always the mom who was on the phone," the mother of three admits. "I always thought it was safe. I didn't think I was doing anything wrong."
But gal-pal and neighbor Jodi Dye wasn't so keen on Galassi's multitasking, especially when her three kids carpooled with the Galassis. So earlier this year, Dye urged Galassi, whose kids are 7, 6 and 4, to watch Oprah's first special on distracted driving.
What Galassi heard was enough to make her slam on the brakes and press end. Most disturbing, she says, was the statistic equating distracted driving with driving under the influence of four drinks, something she says she would never do.
Over lunch, the two women talked about what they could do to help spread the word. Dye wished aloud she had a ping pong paddle she could hold up to people she saw on the phone, but both decided that wouldn't be safe. Instead, they came up with a "Get off the phone!" sign, which resembles the popular "Baby on Board."
Oprah filmed a segment on the moms for a followup show in late April, but the segment didn't make the broadcast. Still, the stories shared during that show had audience members in tears, Galassi says.
That weekend, Groupon, a deal-of-the-day website, offered a deal on the signs, and someone from just about every state bought one, she says. Car dealer McGrath Lexus bought $150 worth of signs to put in loaner cars and other local stores have started selling them.
The women hope to get 10,000 signs in cars by the end of the year.
Galassi says she knows they face an uphill battle getting people to change their habits but believes they're making a difference.
"I feel really good about what we're doing," she says.
The benefit is two-fold, says Galassi. No one wants to be a hypocrite and be seen talking on their phone with a sign in their car, and it sends a message to all the other drivers who see it.
With her phone habit now broken, Galassi says she feels like the sign has helped her set a good example for her kids and has helped her reclaim time to talk and sing together in the car.
"Every mom tries to do the best they can, of course, and tries to make sure their kids are living in a safe environment at home, yet so many of us are just not careful when we're driving," she says. "We all spend so much time in the car and our kids are with us so often, I don't want it to take a tragedy where a mom is reaching down and accidently hits a child or runs into someone else's car."
A split second of distraction, she says, is all it takes.
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.