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21 Days Without Distracted Driving. How to Break a Dangerous Addiction. By Kelcey Kintner for #ItCanWait #sponsored #AT&T

21 Days Without Distracted Driving. How to Break a Dangerous Addiction.

By Kelcey Kintner

This post is sponsored by AT&T but all opinions are my own. 

For many of us, there comes a moment when you realize you’re doing something very dangerous behind the wheel.

For a friend of mine, her moment of realization came when she looked down at her phone to read a text and came way too close to a couple walking down the street. One text. One moment that could change their lives and her life forever.

Here’s the thing about using your smartphone and driving. We pretty much all think it’s dangerous but lots of us do it anyway. 7 in 10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving and 62% of us keep our phone within easy reach in the car.

And you may be alone in the car but you’re never alone on the road. You really are putting other lives at stake.

My “why on earth am I doing this” moment was when I realized I was texting in front of my 13-year-old. She is two years from getting her learner’s permit and she was watching me do something I would NEVER want her doing. Did I mention NEVER?

I knew I had to do something.

But I didn’t. I kept texting and scrolling through my social media accounts at traffic lights (which is still distracting by the way) and my 13-year-old daughter kept watching.

Then I got the opportunity to be part of the AT&T 21-Day Challenge to quit distracted driving. I pledged to do it.

21 days. And man, it was hard. I would be sitting at a traffic light, think of someone I needed to email or an item for my grocery list and then feel very twitchy that I couldn’t pick up my phone.

I realized that this 21-Day Challenge was going to take more than willpower.

It was going to take a lock bag.

We here at Alpha Mom purchased a lock bag for my phone. Now I literally couldn’t use my phone.

Don’t have one of these?

Then just put your phone on vibrate and put it in the back of your car. Not the backseat where you will somehow figure out a way to reach for it during one of those really long red lights but in the trunk. Phone addiction is fierce. You gotta get serious.

What I learned from my 21-Day Challenge?

1. Separation Anxiety from your phone is a real thing.
Now when you’re separated from your phone, you will start feeling a panic that something very important is happening and you don’t know about it. (Oh just so you know – nothing important is happening.). When you get to your destination, you’ll only find out that your Aunt Dorothy thinks she may have left her sweater at your house. That’s about it.

So turn on the radio, breathe, decompress, think about your day and just know that there were hundreds (even thousands) of years when people didn’t know what was happening every second of the day. It can actually feel a little freeing (in sort of a twitchy, panic-inducing way at first).

But it does get easier. Like any bad habit, it takes time to adjust to a new way of doing something.

2. I have become dependent on my phone for GPS. 

Another big challenge for me was getting directions to locations while driving. I live in South Florida and often times I am trying to get to a destination and need the GPS on my phone. So I will admit that a couple of times, I did take my phone out to follow directions. But then I wizened up and remembered how we used to get places before smartphones!

Either use your car’s GPS or take a look at the directions beforehand. Also, remember when your mom wrote directions on a piece of paper? I heard a rumor that paper still actually exists.

3. An App Can Really Help!
Another tip for stopping the dangerous behavior of distracted driving? Download the AT&T DriveMode App on your android or iPhone. It can silence incoming alerts and phone calls. The app automatically turns on when you reach 15 MPH and turns it off after you stop. It can also help keep young drivers safe by sending a message to a parent if the app is turned off.

4. 21 is a Magic Number.
So why exactly 21 days? That’s because experts says it takes at least 21 days to break a habit. So if you’re serious about focusing on the road, instead of your phone… you’ve got to give it at least 21 days. That’s less than a month! You’ve got this.

Take the Pledge

Look, I know I’m not a perfect parent. But I do want to strive to be the best I can be. My hope is that some day my child will remember us belting out songs in the car and talking about our day – rather than watching me madly text at lights. And I know with AT&T’s help, I’ve taken the first step in that journey.

Because #ItCanWait.

Using your phone behind the wheel really is an addiction. I took the pledge to never drive distracted and so can you. The 21-Day Challenge will help make safe driving a lifelong practice.

So take the pledge and join the movement. Today. And then share your progress on social media using #ItCanWait. We’re not asking you to be perfect. We’re asking you to join us in taking the first step in making our roads safer.

To learn more ways to quit, visit AT&T on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

About the Author

Kelcey Kintner

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog 

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog The Mama Bird Diaries and writes for the Huffington Post. You can follow her @mamabirddiaries or on Facebook. She’s still trying to fit 5 kids on a Vespa. 

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