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Driving it Home

Picture of Ruff and Blossom driving racecars

Okay, parents. It's just you and me, Ruff Ruffman. You may know me from television's FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman, or from that FRONTLINE episode "Squeaky Toys and the Dogs Who Love Them." Not my proudest moment. (Ahem.)

But if I can be serious for a minute...

I know you shouldn't text and drive. You know you shouldn't text and drive.

So why do you do it? Why put yourself and your loved ones at risk?

To help you help yourself, I've created a distraction game, a video, and a very catchy song ("A worthy follow-up to 'Chicken Island.'" Thanks, Rolling Stone!) to remind your kids to nag YOU to be a safer driver, and to encourage THEM to be better copilots. They should immediately start nagging you next time you're in the car. (You're welcome!)

But let them help! They can answer the phone. They can text. They can fiddle with the music. They're kids — they're GREAT at all that stuff.

And that leaves you to keep your eyes on the road.

To help you ALL remember, we've created a family pledge. It's a shared responsibility to keep driving safe. Have the whole family talk about it. Sign it. Stick it on the fridge.

If you want to know why we're doing this, it's because real people are being killed or injured every day in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving. In 2012, over 400,000 people were injured. In 2013, over 3,000 people were killed. And these numbers will only get worse unless we do something.

For easy reference, here are all things that our friends at the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration remind us are distractions:

Texting. Using a phone. Eating and drinking. Texting. Talking to passengers. Grooming. TEXTING. Reading — including maps. Using a GPS device. Watching video. T*E*X*T*I*N*G. And adjusting the radio, CD player, or music player.

Now, the more observant among you may have noticed TEXTING in there a few times. That's because text messaging requires VISUAL, MANUAL, and COGNITIVE attention from the driver. That makes it by far the most alarming distraction.

And just because you're stopped at a light doesn't mean it's CRAZY TEXTING TIME, because research shows that even if you stop texting before you start driving again, your head is still thinking about the text. You should be using that time at the stoplight to be aware of what's around you: cars and pedestrians.

Ooh! As a bonus, here are a few great resources for you to check out. (I don't think any of them are made by dogs, but they're good anyway.) Hopefully one of them will scare you straight.

Distraction.gov from the U.S. Department of Transportation National. They know what they're taking about.

"It Can Wait" from AT&T. If you do nothing else today, watch this.

There are tons of videos online about distracted driving. Here is just one from Volkswagen.

I could go on, but I'll stop here.

Now it's YOUR turn.

Let us know that you take this seriously. Tell us what happens.

Thank you from me — and thank you from your kids.

Ruff Ruffman

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