'Designated driver' campaign model for distracted driving

May 24, 2013 at 5:14 PM
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BOSTON, May 24 (UPI) -- The Harvard School of Public Health associate dean who was behind the "designated driver" campaign says he plans a similar move against distracted driving.

Jay Winsten, Frank Stanton director of the Harvard School of Public Health's Center for Health Communication in Boston, spearheaded the successful designated driver campaign in the late 1980s and early 1990s to reduce drunken driving. Now he says messages against distracted driving -- on television shows, movies, websites or social media -- would change social norms about the acceptability of emailing or texting behind the wheel.

Texting and cellphone use would be the main focus of the campaign, although other distractions -- like programming a Global Positioning System or fiddling with a child's entertainment center -- will also be targeted, Winsten said.

Winsten said he hoped to enlist the creative talents of Hollywood as he did with the designated driving campaign.

"People connect to fictional characters and become engaged in the story lines," Winsten told the Harvard Gazette. "A substantial body of research on social learning has demonstrated that the modeling of behavior through entertainment programming can strongly influence social norms and behavior."

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