This public service announcement featuring former Olympic and World Heavyweight boxing champion Smokin’ Joe Frazier is just one of the resources available to support the Decide to Drive multimedia campaign.


Published 7/1/2011
Lauren Pearson

Distracted driving and you

How you can make a difference in your community

Distracted drivers injure 500,000 people each year. Distractions come in many different forms—from eating and texting to flipping through a map book while driving.

This year, the AAOS is paying particular attention to the impact of distracted drivers, with billboards, bus wraps, print ads, radio spots, and television ads. They are all part of the “Decide to Drive” multimedia campaign, a joint effort of the AAOS, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, and the Auto Alliance.

“People don’t have an idea of the scope of this problem,” said Michael F. Schafer, MD, chair of the Communications Cabinet. “In March 2011, the AAOS commissioned a Harris Interactive Survey of more than 1,500 driving-age adults. One in five of them, or 20 percent, said they are good enough drivers that they can do other things while driving without compromising their driving ability. Transportation statistics, however, indicate that thousands of people die each year from crashes related to distracted driving, so does a ‘good’ distracted driver really exist?”

Getting involved
The Decide to Drive campaign was launched to AAOS members at the 2011 Annual Meeting in San Diego. It was presented to the national media during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month (April) in Washington, D.C. Since then, several individual orthopaedic surgeons and state societies have helped bring the message to the public. Here are some of their stories:

Alan L. Jones, MD, of Dallas, supplied his local media with a copy of the television ad earlier this year. Producers then called and asked him to appear on KTVT/KTXA Fort Worth to talk about how to prevent distracted driving injuries.

David J. Hak, MD, MBA, sent Decide to Drive materials to Local Channel 9 in Denver, and was interviewed for a larger driving segment in March. He also sent the television and radio public service announcements (PSA) to three other stations in Denver.

Doug Kiburz, MD, of Sedalia, Mo., sent the radio PSA to his local public broadcasting station, replacing his group’s regular sponsored advertising message.

Fred Redfern, MD, and the Nevada Orthopaedic Society sent Decide to Drive print materials to members of the state legislature while the legislators were considering two distracted driving bills.

The Alabama Orthopaedic Society and the Alabama Department of Public Safety used the “OMG! Texting While Driving is a Deadly Distraction” print ad to help promote public safety. Their efforts led then Governor Bob Riley to issue a formal proclamation denoting December 2010 as “Don’t Text and Drive Month in Alabama.”

“The opportunities and ways to use the many distracted driving materials are vast,” added Leon Benson, MD, vice-chair of the Communications Cabinet. “I hope this article inspires our members and empowers them to take action in their local communities.”

Join the campaign
Every AAOS member can be part of the campaign. Here’s how:

  1. Visit Decidetodrive.org for more information about this campaign. Watch the television spot and listen to the radio spot.
  2. Download the Decide to Drive toolkit, an all-in-one resource for you to use in educating patients, family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors on the dangers of distracted driving. It has everything you need, whether you want to talk to a reporter or a patient, update your website as a more comprehensive health resource, or just spread the word on this dangerous habit.
  3. Order free posters, postcards, and easel backs for your waiting rooms and office exam rooms (pay only for postage). Go to www.aaos.org/prresources and download an order form, or call AAOS customer service at (800) 626-6726.
  • Personalize postcards with your name, practice information, and safety tips. (Sample tips are available in the toolkit.)
  • Frame posters and hang them in your patient reception area.
  • Distribute postcards at health fairs or hospital events; give them to nurses and other staff at your clinics, hospitals, and universities.
  • Send the postcards or posters along with a personal note to your state legislators or local officials to educate them about the issues relating to orthopaedics.
  1. Remind drivers in your e-mail messages. You could add an outgoing e-mail signature about Distracted Driving. For example, “When Behind the Wheel, Decide to Drive! Report your story at decidetodrive.org” See the online version of this article for simple steps to add an e-mail signature message.

“These are just a few of the things our members can do to support the Decide to Drive campaign,” continued Dr. Benson. “If you have any ideas for expanding the conversation or spreading the word, please e-mail them to publicrelations@aaos.org

All it takes is one conversation, one click, one patient at a time—and together we will help drivers to decide to drive.

Lauren Pearson is manager, media relations, in the AAOS public relations department. She can be reached at pearson@aaos.org

Helping students decide to drive
The Decide to Drive campaign is reaching out to future drivers so they learn good driving habits. The AAOS is sponsoring a national PSA poster contest for students in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Entries for this contest will be accepted through November 15, 2011, and the winner will be formally announced during the Academy’s 2012 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The Decide to Drive Detective school curriculum for fifth and sixth graders will be available later this fall. This school toolkit provides educators and teachers with activities that meet National Standards in math, language arts, and social studies. The program raises awareness among students and their parents of the prevalence and risks of distracted driving using AAOS Decide to Drive materials.

Teachers who implement this curriculum will urge their students to become Decide to Drive Detectives, to spread the Decide to Drive message, and to urge their families to sign the Decide to Drive pledge.

If you have any questions about the Decide to Drive initiative, PSA poster contest, or upcoming school curriculum, or would like to share your success stories or ideas for future promotions, contact Sandra Gordon, public relations director at (847)384-4030 or gordon@aaos.org