What does the safety officer for one of the USA's biggest insurers tell his family about texting-while-driving or making a call on a cell phone while behind the wheel?
"No phone call is worth injuring yourself or injuring another person," says Bill Windsor of Nationwide Insurance. "Whatever call's coming in can wait until you're in a place where you can safely take that call."
Put the phone on standby, put it away and by all means don't try to read or send text messages, he adds. Studies have shown that texting is one of the most dangerous things drivers do.
Texting-while-driving has been in the headlines this week. Windsor was at the Department of Transportation's distracted driving summit the past two days. President Obama this afternoon issued an executive order banning all federal workers from texting while operating government vehicles. "Text messaging causes drivers to take their eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel, endangering both themselves and others," the order reads.
Windsor spoke with me by cell phone (from a train car, not an automobile) as he left Washington this afternoon.
His company recently commissioned a national survey that showed "8 in 10 Americans ... would support legislation restricting cell phone use while driving."
The survey results, says Windsor, support the notion that "Americans are really fed up with distracted driving."
He sees a time coming quickly when a combination of laws prohibiting cell phone use, public ad campaigns and technology combine to make driving-while-calling-or-texting as much of a taboo as drunk driving has become.
Windsor also sees companies such as Nationwide soon offering discounts to drivers who take advantage of emerging technology that would block the use of cell phones (except for making emergency calls) while a motor vehicle is in motion.
Here's some audio (edited for length) from our conversation:
Straight From A Safety Expert: Put The Phone Away While Driving