ODOT launches DriveHealthy campaign to curb distracted driving

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August 30, 2017

For more information: Tom Fuller, ODOT Communications Manager, 503.986.3455(o); 503.480.5143(c); Thomas.Fuller@odot.state.or.us

DriveHealthy campaign launches

Campaign designed to change cultural norms and reduce distracted driving begins!

SALEM — Who are Oregon’s safest drivers? That’s what a new campaign created by AAA Oregon/Idaho, ODOT and the Oregon State Police seeks to discover. DriveHealthy’s aim is to help reduce the incidence of distracted driving in Oregon by introducing friendly competition.

Why the need for this? A recent survey found that while 69 percent of Oregonians are VERY uncomfortable riding with a driver who is sending a text message, 72 percent admit to driving distracted themselves! In Oregon on average eight people are hurt or killed by a distracted driver each day. This has contributed to the largest increase in traffic fatalities in Oregon in a decade. At the same time, cell phone use in vehicles has strong addictive properties: Changing this behavior will be difficult.

“We’re connected to each other socially with technology,” said ODOT Director Matthew Garrett. “And the fact is, that connection doesn’t stop when we get behind the wheel. So we want to replace the addiction to the phone by using those same social connections, combined with immediate feedback on driving and friendly competition.”

“Here’s how it works,” said Garrett. “It’s simple. You get with your closest friends, family or co-workers and form a group. Your group works together to beat others in the same category – like schools, civic clubs, religious organizations or co-workers at other Oregon businesses. You can also compete on your own as an Oregon resident.”

Organizations can register at www.DriveHealthy.org. Starting September 1, they can download a free app from Lifesaver https://lifesaver-app.com/ and the competition begins. Each month is a new opportunity to compete. Will it be effective? Data suggests that a recent similar campaign in Boston reduced distracted driving among participants by 47 percent.

By not opening your phone while driving, you keep your score high. At the end of each month, the groups with the highest scores win bragging rights on the DriveHealthy website.

“We’re convinced,” said Garrett, “that while technology helped create the problem, technology can also help provide a solution to distracted driving.”

DriveHealthy started as the result of a statewide task force, which also recommended passage of tougher cell-phone laws. House Bill 2597 takes effect October 1 and, among other changes, increases the penalty for using a mobile electronic device while driving to $2,000.

Businesses, corporations, organizations and media outlets can support the DriveHealthy campaign in a variety of ways:

  • Adopt the campaign as a cause for your organization
  • Sponsor media promotion for DriveHealthy in your local market
  • Sponsor monthly rewards for the best drivers

For information on how to sponsor DriveHealthy monthly rewards, contact LifeSaver (info@lifesaver-app.com). For information on how to adopt DriveHealthy in your community, contact Tom Fuller (503-986-3455, Thomas.Fuller@odot.state.or.us).

“Our goal is lofty,” said Garrett. “We want to change cultural norms around distracted driving like they changed regarding seat belt use and drunk driving. It took decades to make significant progress in those areas. Today things change at Internet speed so I’m hopeful the norms around driving healthy can become a part of our culture quickly.”

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