Would you hang up your cell phone in the car for a dollar? If so, drive to Boston where Jeff Larson is paying people who are driving and talking on their mobile phones a dollar to hang up. Jeff is the president of Safe Roads Alliance, a nonprofit group in Boston. His group has been trying to raise awareness about the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving through this roadside campaign that has been named “Bucks for Hang Ups.”
Larson has been standing on the side of the road near the Columbia Road exit off Interstate 93 South for about a week with a sign that reads: “Please, please, please, hang up and drive.” The back of his sign reads: “I’ll give you $1 if you hang up that call.’’ And he will. Larson has given away over a hundred dollars in a week, and he is prepared to give away four hundred more. Unfortunately for Larson, most people respond to him as they would to a homeless person panhandling for change. Even though he dresses in a suit and tie, Larson has been getting the finger all week. He says that people have actually been turning down the money.
Although no one likes being pestered at a red light, Larson’s cause is just. In addition to giving out a dollar for hang ups, he is handing out flyers that to inform drivers that they are four times more likely to get into a car accident if they are talking or texting while driving. The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis reports that 636,000 crashes and 2,600 deaths a year are related to cell phone usage. Larson commented that, “People just don’t drive well,” and I’d have to agree. There are already plenty of distractions for drivers like food, make up, and iPods. With BlueTooth earpieces being so cheap these days, it seems ridiculous to have to add cell phones to the list.
Larson plans on taking his campaign to Washington this week where US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be holding a summit on distracted driving. If you’ll be driving in the area, look for the guy in the suit trying to give away money. Wendy’s still has a dollar menu, right?