March 27, 2014
One San Francisco Designer’s Crusade Against Distracted Driving
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The latest efforts against texting and other distractions while driving include a website aimed at shaming texters, and now billboards with large photos of people on the 101 Freeway who don't keep two hands on the wheel and two eyes on the road are popping up in California.
Graphic designer Brian Singer started with the website TWITSpotting.com, Adweek reports. The TWIT stands for Texting While in Traffic, but connotations are heavily applied. The website's main purpose, other than to get people to stop texting while driving, is to post photos of people texting, looking at their phones, applying makeup and other activities that take their eyes off the road. Most of the photos are taken along the 101 Freeway in the San Francisco area, however Singer insists that he is not behind the wheel when he takes the photos. He is always a passenger in the car.
To advance Singer's efforts, the graphic designer has paid for billboards that show photos of people texting and concentrating on their phone instead of the road. Singer said he contacted a road-safety group, hoping it would help fund the project, but decided to fund the advertising fees for the billboard alone for now.
Singer has not been public about who is posting the photos, however Gizmodo's Alissa Walker was able to contact Singer to discuss the TWIT project .
The photos are intended to shame drivers who text, and get drivers who aren't caught behind Singer's lens to think about their actions, and stop texting behind the wheel. "My hope is that it will freak some people out and make them think twice before picking up the phone while driving," Singer told Walker. "My greater hope is that it inspires others to start taking photos, too. If enough people started doing this, it could have a dramatic affect on people's behavior."
The TWITSpotting website appears to have photos taken by Singer, though the site encourages others to submit photos of drivers they see who are using their phones, or engaging in distracted driving. Two stipulations to submitting photos: photos are not to be taken from the driver's seat, and only cars that are moving. That's because when a car is sitting still, it's safe to text.
According to stats posted on TWITSpotting.com, a person texting typically takes his eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, "the equivalent-at-55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind." There is also another scary fact: 660,000 drivers are using their phones right now, and 80 percent of vehicle crashes involve driver inattention.
While Singer was not able to get any groups to fund the billboard campaign, distracted driving is a serious and growing issue that has spurred the need for many groups to form and do research. A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February found that about 9 people are killed and over 1,000 are injured every day due to distracted driving in the United States.