A packed concert venue buzzes with young adults eager to catch rapper Ludacris in action on stage.
Vendors in the lobby hawk everything from hot dogs to T-shirts to CDs.
And among the usual vendors, one table stands out. Above it, black and white signs proclaim “PHONE CONDOM®.”
Phone Condom? the concert attendees ask each other. This we’ve got to see.
“The black Phone Condom poster was very eye-catching,” says Mandi Seethaler of the Alaska Injury Prevention Center in Anchorage. Mandi took the Phone Condom’s message on the road with her to the January 11th Ludacris concert in Anchorage. She thought it was the perfect venue to get that lesson across.
What is that lesson? It’s a simple call to action: Park your phone when you drive your car.
“Distracted driving is a huge issue (in Alaska),” Mandi explains. The problem is getting the attention of the driving public—especially younger drivers.
The Alaska Injury Prevention Center has used the Fatal Vision® goggles and texting posters at teen driving programs before, so they were excited to try out the Phone Condom, which is a seal-able pouch that hangs from a key ring to remind the driver to seal up his or her phone before driving. The idea is to remove the temptation to talk or text and drive.
“Most people who get their hands on them think they’re great,” says Prevention Center Projects Director Beth Schuerman.
That proved true at the Ludacris concert. “We gave a free Phone Condom to concert-goers to complete a survey,” Mandi says. “A lot of them got a big chuckle out of it. Everyone who came to the table took one.”
The survey the concert attendees filled out included four questions with eye-popping responses:
- How often do you talk on a cell phone while driving a car?
38.6% replied sometimes or often
33.7% replied almost every time
- How often do you read or send text messages while driving your car?
54.2% replied sometimes/often
19.3% replied almost every time
- Do you plan to put your cell phone in the phone pouch while driving?
57.8% replied yes
31.3% replied maybe
10.8% replied no
- Would you recommend this to a friend?
95.2% replied yes
4.8% replied no
“We tried to keep it short, so they’d be more likely to respond,” Mandi explains.
The Alaska Injury Prevention Center purchased the product because the staff thought it was interesting and clever. “Plus,” adds Mandi, “it’s physical. They have to do something with it.” That reinforces the overall message of not allowing a cell phone to distract your driving.
The Center has also distributed Phone Condoms through a local radio station and high school. The Center purchased the ones with the young adult message to distribute at the high school. Phone Condoms with more mature messages printed on them are also available.
“One of the high school nurses loves the idea for kids,” says Beth. “She said, ‘They need to wake up and understand the risk.’ She’s been really helpful.”
Mandi says that working with Innocorp, Ltd. was easy for Center staff. Among other things, Innocorp allowed her to use graphics to help her customize literature for her Ludacris outreach.
What does the future hold for the Center’s use of Phone Condoms? Beth is working with a previous safety outreach partner, the University of Alaska. “We plan to do more.”