Every parent has anxiety once their children turn 16 and it becomes legal for them to obtain a driver’s license.
In today’s world, there is another added concern: Young people driving and talking on their cell phone. As Roslyn resident Jason Lipetz, M.D. points out, this bad habit often comes from children watching their own parents drive and talk on the cell.
After criticism from his own children on this habit, Lipetz felt that more than just family action was needed. It was time, he concluded, to take the issue of driving and cell talking public. And so he founded an organization, Glove It, intended simply to remind drivers that once they set out of the road, it is time to put that cell phone in the nearby glove compartment. The website is takethisphoneandgloveit.org
The web site title, as some readers may recognize, is a take on the famous Johnny Paycheck country song from the 1970s. Lipetz worked with a graphic designer to make both car magnets and cell phone decals that, again, remind both drivers and passengers to drive safely.
Lipetz is pleased so far with the response.
“It just took off,” he said. “Kids are buying into it. We’re onto something. More people are becoming aware and they are spreading the word.”
Locally, Glove It had a presence at the recent Roslyn High School Homecoming events, while also holding a sale at the Roslyn Middle School Back to School Night.
Lipetz added that placing the cell in the glove compartment needs to become a “thought behavior” process, much like wearing a seat belt.
“It’s important that my peers who are learning to drive aren’t using their phones from the very beginning,” said Eryn Lipetz. “However, parents also have to learn to Glove It now and keep their eyes on the road at all times.”
“Our message originated from our children and family,” Lipetz acknowledged. “We were petrified of our 16-year old daughter, Eryn, obtaining her license and cell phone distractions which could potentially lead to a tragic accident. Our children were, in turn, vocal critics of our own horrific habits of interacting with our phones while driving, and the decision, slogans, and public campaign arose. In summary, the only safe place for the cell phone while driving is the glove compartment or glove box. There, the phone can integrate with the automobile’s hands free and voice activated technology and the dangerous visual and manual interactions with mobile devices are removed. If the automobile does not have such current technology, then it remains in the glove compartment until the car is parked. The vast majority of crashes arising from cell phone distraction result from phone interactions other than texting.
“Our campaign and slogans have gained amazing traction over the past weeks,” he continued. “We have sold phone decals and car magnets along the eastern seaboard. We have assembled a core team of passionate and dedicated parents and professionals. School districts from Roslyn to Moriches have expressed interest in joining our campaign. We have secured the endorsements and support of local politicians, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), the Roslyn School District, the Village of East Hills, a leading scientist at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (the home of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies of driver distraction), and have been honored to sponsor the theme of this year’s NYC Ripley’s Believe It or Not student cartoon contest depicting the dangers of cell phone distraction while driving.
“Most recently, we have been endorsed by the Children’s Medical Fund of New York and will be distributing our materials at their upcoming events,” Lipetz said. “We have been endorsed by a regarded New York based non-profit start up organization which has agreed to act as our fiscal sponsor so that we may solicit donations in advance of our 501c3 recognition. And we’re just getting started.”
In addition, Glove It is working to secure a cooperative effort with Cohen Children’s Medical Center, and the North Shore LIJ Health System, where Lipetz is on the faculty and where he serves as director of the newly launched NS-LIJ Spine Center.
“As health care providers, we have a moral obligation to do all that we can to preserve health and prevent injury. Our family is in this for the long haul. Parallel to efforts to curb drinking and driving, and using seatbelts, ‘Gloving’ the phone must become an as regarded ritual, along with law enforcement efforts punishing those who risk their own and other’s lives by handling their phones while driving.”
Future plans for Glove It including advertising campaigns and presentations at local high schools. For now, Lipetz is trying to receive tax exemption status for Glove It, which would help it become attractive to corporate sponsors. Either way, this Roslyn physician has ignited a grass-roots movement appealing to people of all ages.