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An initiative to remind you to put away your phones while driving.

By Rabab KhanCommunity Interactivity Editor
March 12, 2014
Image Credit: Supplied

Ever heard of the #redthumbreminder? It is a new trend that is slowly catching on social media channels. The aim — to spread awareness against distracted driving, specifically focusing on texting while you drive. If you are among those who find it hard to keep your phone away while driving, this innovative idea may help you fight the problem.

Steve Babcock from Colorado, USA, initiated the “Red Thumb Reminder” in August 2013 after he realised that he had a “terrible habit”.

He told Gulf News in an email interview: “I realised that I had a terrible habit of using my phone while driving. And I was curious why all of the big, national campaigns around distracted driving weren’t affecting my habit in any way. It was just a curiosity until a close friend of mine lost her uncle to a distracted driving incident involving a 55-year-old woman. That’s when I started to get more proactive about finding a solution for myself, because I did not want to be the source of such pain and trauma for my family or someone else.”

Drivers using their mobile phones to text while driving has become a common sight. Inspired by his daughter’s technique of tying a piece of yarn on her finger to remember something at school, Babcock the executive creative director at a digital marketing agency, decided to paint his thumb red in an effort to stop his own habit of distracted driving. While it may sound simple or silly, it worked!

He said: “I never intended to turn this idea into a campaign or a movement. The idea was conceived specifically for me. I came to the realisation that I had a problem and that the potential risk of the problem was way too high to not make a change.” So, he decided to make a bigger effort. Social media was used as a tool for this campaign.

Babcock said: “Movements like Red Thumb Reminder are best grown organically. Aside from the fact that I didn’t have any money to put towards paid media, my hope has always been to just plant this seed in social media and then let the world turn it into whatever they wanted. I think big, official campaigns with sponsors are great and effective. But with something as scrappy as Red Thumb Reminder, it just didn’t feel right.

“This is something anybody can do. There is no agenda other than helping people find their solution for the problem. There is no money involved. No operations. All someone needs is a desire, some finger nail polish — or whatever works for them — and that’s about it. So far, social media has proven to be the perfect playground for the idea.”

When asked why he chose the colour red, he said: “Red is the colour of a stop sign. It’s a bright colour that is not easily overlooked. I wanted the colour to be bold enough that it would always catch my attention as well as the attention of others so as to stimulate conversation about it.”

According to Babcock, the response has been overwhelming. The movement has gone global with new channels picking it up every day.

Some schools in the US have started hosting Red Thumb Reminder Days where all the teachers bring in red nail polish and paint the student’s thumbs. Babcock says he has been hearing positive feedback and success stories from men, women and children of all ages.

He said: “It’s awesome to see the tactic working for others just as it has for me. Now that it’s an official movement, my desire is to just keep up the momentum. I would like to get an official nail polish manufacturer involved. I would love a signature colour polish to be made and sold in their stores. My plan is to make Red Thumb Reminder a white label option for anybody who wants to customise the movement for their community. So for example, if a school wants to create their own Red Thumb Reminder campaign or a state department of transportation. I want to make Red Thumb Reminder as open source as possible for people to use however they want.”

Texting while driving is a global issue and even Babcock realises that.

He said: “Since the campaign, I’ve seen a lot of adoption from places outside of the USA. It has been surprising to me. But it turns out that wherever there are phones, cars and roads, there’s distracted driving. The best part about Red Thumb Reminder is that it’s culturally relevant all over the world. It’s a behaviour that easily translates.”

Global , Others

Date: 4/3/2014 1:11:33 PM

By: YASA WEB , gulfnews
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