Woman hopes magnets will make message stick
Whitney Ball says most people are aware of the perils of texting and driving, but she hopes on-the-road reminders can help ward off any temptations.
Over the summer, she came up with the idea of making “Drop It and Drive in Darien” oval car magnets available around town that can be put on the backs of cars. She had 250 magnets produced by an online vendor and is currently distributing magnets from a second order of 250.
The campaign has caught on, having won the endorsement of police officials, along with others who are distributing the magnets. The magnets have also been affixed to Darien Police patrol cruisers, which the Darien Police Association has paid for as part of an additional 100 magnets being distributed at the department, said Court Isaac, the department’s motorcycle officer.
“We’re all functioning and intelligent people by and large who know this is dangerous behavior,”said Ball, a mother of two. “No one would agree that drinking and driving is OK, but the research is started to show that this is even more dangerous. But it is so easy for us to forget.”
In the eyes of Ball, a town native whose professional background is international human rights and international development, the problem of distracted driving locally often seems to be getting worse.
“I’m constantly seeing stories about distracted driving accidents and, yes, also personally having people almost hit me,” she said.
Drop it & Drive magnets are also being distrubuted at Darien Depot Teen Center, the Darien Toy Box, the Healthy Child, the UPS Store, Barrett Bookstore and Wild Birds Unlimited. Fresh Green Light, a local driving school, put the magnets on their student driver cars.
Ball said she wants to reach out to members of the Darien High School club Students Against Destructive Decisions and Safe Rides, among others, to help promote the campaign.
Information about the dangers of distracted driving could be shared in town elementary schools, because children could effectively push their parents not to use phones behind the wheel, she added.
“There is research that there is nothing like kids coming home and telling their parents what they should be doing,” Ball said. “I know it is that way with my kids.”
With the approval of the town’s police commission, future magnets will be able to include the Darien Police insignia, he said.
“I think efforts like Whitney’s are important because it is one thing for police to preach to people and hand out tickets but it is very important and helpful when the community and police have a cooperative effort to try to change behavior,” Isaac said.