Not just talk, action too

Several days ago I shared a recipe that whipped up sweeping national conversation about a public health issue:  distracted driving.

So does the recipe result in behavior change? Well, yes.

This week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its results of driver cell phone use in traffic. In 2008, NHTSA saw 1% of drivers “visibly manipulating” handheld phones — which means drivers were texting, emailing, Twittering, typing phone numbers, etc. Drivers were doing something with their fingers and the phone. In 2009, NHTSA saw .06% of drivers doing this. Significant change in one year!

Now if you don’t work with data, you may think “so what,” those numbers are small. But at any point during the day, how many millions of drivers are on the roads? There are 300 million people in this country. For each million drivers, 1% = 10,000 drivers texting or emailing at any moment while driving. So in one year, the numbers of drivers texting, emailing, dialing or whatever at any moment during the day decreased by 4,000 for each million people driving at that moment.

Talking on phones (hands-free or handheld) also fell over the past year, from an estimated 11% of drivers at any moment during the day in 2008 to 9% in 2009.

That change is called “moving the needle” — getting measurable and significant results.

Thus far, the recipe is working.

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