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Under the Influence of Texting

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Banning texting while driving is an attempt to save lives. But what can state legislators learn from business process improvement when it comes to influencing stakeholder behaviors?

Consider one instance: It was reported that state senator Tom Wyss proposed a ban aimed at teenagers prohibiting text messaging while driving.

Enforcement is one way to react to dangerous behavior, but governments should consider defining opportunities as well as punishing mistakes.

Employee Behavior - Texting While Driving

© Flickr user indyplanets

While in a metropolitan coverage zone, the modern mobile phone can detect its own location and velocity. Wireless carriers, therefore could refuse to route non-emergency calls to handsets moving faster than a brisk walk. This could be further refined, as required by Senator Wyss, to only those phones associated with account holders aged 18 and under.

Whether it’s the private sector or the business of public safety, focusing on the process rather than trying to control the behavior is almost always superior. Here are some other ideas that are process-oriented rather than behavior-limiting:

  • Offer credits, programs, or workshops for hands-free technology in cars
  • Limit or tax the sale of mobile phones to teenagers who have not taken a certification test
  • Program phones to require a confirmation from the user while in motion

Asking police officers to enforce yet another law may slightly improve teen safety but will reduce overall coverage of other services. Adding requirements to modify behavior means adding work. On the other hand, changing the process may only require work for a few people. Plus, the process can inform behavior for future generations.

Whether you feel that a text messaging ban for teen drivers would encourage motorists to behave more responsibly, or you think that government incursion into personal telephonic decisions is unwarranted, the best solution is not always the obvious one.

But no matter If you’re considering trying to change behavior through enforcement, you might want to talk to an
employee behavior expert to find alternate solutions that may help you achieve your goals.

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