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US government agency shames texting drivers on Twitter

Technically Incorrect: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration roots out those who admit texting and driving and gives them a severe scolding.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Can shaming work?

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You can't stop people texting and driving.

That's a personal opinion and it doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

AT&T, for example, attempted stomach-churning drama. A recent and very enjoyable New Zealand ad tried humor.

On Friday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US went for something more traditional: public shaming.

Its Twitter account was adorned with messages to those who had admitted they texted and drove.

For example, someone called Jay-Toven (Twitter handle @DuckDaggettlss) had tweeted: "I have no problem texting while driving, but I won't text while going down stairs. Hell naw."

The NHTSA replied to her tweet: "You might not have a problem with the texting & driving, @DuckDaggettlss, but we do. Stay off your phone and #justdrive -- it's not worth it."

Someone called Hillary had tweeted: "I can't decide what's worse, texting while driving or reading the newspaper while driving."

The NTHSA wasn't having that. It huffed: "Doing anything behind the wheel other than driving is the worst, @hillaryyfae. For everyone's sake, we'd advise not doing either. #justdrive."

Someone with the fetching Twitter name DrunkCollegeKid tweeted: "Snapchatting while driving is like the real life Pokemon Snap."

To which the NHTSA sniffed: "Except in real life, you actually have to control the car you're riding in, @drunkcollegekid. Put down the phone and #justdrive."

It wasn't all shaming, however.

The NHTSA found a tweet from Laura A Warman. It read: "one time I dated someone who didn't text and drive."

To which the government agency replied: "Just based off that, they sound like a keeper to us, @LauraAWarman. Next time speak up, keep the phone down, and #justdrive."

It's unclear whether this is a one-off event or whether the agency intends to continue this process of engaging and sometimes shaming Twitter users. The NHTSA didn't respond to a request for comment.

In the end, of course, if you save just one life, if you persuade just one person to put down the phone and just drive, it has to be worth it.

Those who can't wait for self-driving cars will say they're the only way to stop our dangerous multitasking.

It's true that self-driving cars will stop texting and driving. But the sad part is that they'll stop the driving, not the texting.

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