Emerson Class Seeks To Prevent Teenagers From Texting While Driving

Texting while driving

Carrie Fuller

August 16, 2010

Emerson Health Communication Associate Professor Tim Edgar’s social marketing course was spotlighted in the August 15 Boston Globe article and related video: “Need texting therapy?

Last semester, Edgar’s class developed a campaign to stop teens from texting while driving and Edgar shared the students’ suggestions with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“The more we got into it, the more I realized how complex a behavior texting is,’’ Edgar told the Globe. “It’s not like asking people to start using seat belts where you get into the car, you click it, and you’re good to go. With texting, it’s probably on the person’s mind the whole time they are driving, especially with teens.’’

Ian Lathrop, a graduate student in Edgar’s class was also interviewed for the article, “if you hear your phone, you look at it; that’s just the way we’re programmed,’’ Lathrop told the Globe. “I think it’s just going to have to be a cold turkey situation.’’

The Emerson team found that the threat of losing the right to drive much more effective than the potential for causing injuries or death in a crash.

A new Massachusetts state law banning texting while driving goes into effect October 1, which includes fines of $100 for first offenders, even if they receive or write a text at a stoplight.

Watch the full video from Boston.com below: