The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the US federal regulatory body charged with automobile safety, has stepped up its social media game, in efforts to spread awareness about the dangers of texting while driving. The agency is personally calling out people on Twitter who post tweets admitting (sometimes even gleefully) driving while texting.
Although the NHTSA's social media team has been using Twitter since 2013 to reprimand people who publicly admit to texting and driving, it is only in the month of April that the agency actively trawls for such blatant tweets and begins zealously issuing tweet burns.
What makes April so special? In 2010, April was marked as Distracted Driving Awareness Month by the National Safety Council, in efforts to spread awareness among commuters about the dangers of driving while distracted by other activities.
NHTSA representative Brian Thomas told the Wired: "We're doing everything short of sliding into the public's Direct Messages to get [the] point across."
Although distracted driving can include a wide range of behaviour, the NHTSA has chosen to focus more on phone-related distraction, especially because of the dangers it poses. Driving while on the phone can lead to distracting not just your attention, but also compromise visual, manual and cognitive responses, which can be highly dangerous when you are on the road.
Social media campaigns have become an effective tool in helping spread awareness about a wide variety of issues, be it on personal safety, online security or even combating extremist propaganda. Tech giants like Twitter and Facebook have launched such campaigns to tackle a wide variety of issues, more recently the growing prejudice against migrants. For instance, Facebook's online campaign called Initiative for Civil Courage Online, which was launched in Europe, is aimed at providing additional support to NGO's in their efforts to curb online racist and xenophobic posts.