"It is like an addiction," Kari Galassi says. "I just want to
reach over and grab my phone, so it's hard." Here are four things
she did to break the talking-while-driving habit:
percent of adults say they have been in a car when the driver
was sending or reading text messages on their cell phone whereas 48
percent of teens have witnessed the same.
percent of cell phone-owning adults say they have physically
bumped into another person or object (not while driving) because
they were distracted by talking or texting on their phone.
SOURCE: Pew Research Center
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
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
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,
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
The women hope to get 10,000 signs in cars by the end of the
Galassi says she knows they face an uphill battle getting people
to change their habits but believes they're making a
"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
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
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.
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