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When The “Unfinished Text” Goes Viral

Could a viral photo finally make people stop texting while driving?

Yesterday, Mashable published a post about Alexander Heit, a 22-year-old from a small town in Colorado, who died in a fatal car accident.  While eyewitnesses say they noticed Heit’s head was down just before the accident, suggesting that he was texting while he was driving his vehicle, the most sobering detail about this story is the unfinished text message that he was sending to a friend at the time.

According to a study, “DWI: Driving While Intexticated,” texting while driving makes the likelihood of crashing up to 23x more likely.  Also included in this infographic is another interesting statistic: “77% of teens and young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.”  It’s not only teens and young adults who are guilty; 27% of adults have sent or received text messages while driving as well.

The photo of the Unfinished Text has been shared on a number of social media channels.  The Mashable article has had 882 likes, 71 comments, and 2,311 shares since it was posted on Facebook yesterday afternoon.  From the website, the article has been shared 18,100 times not only on Facebook, but also on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.  The Today Show tweeted about its interview with Sharon Heit, Alexander’s mother, earlier this morning. Within two hours, it was retweeted 78 times.

Grim as it may be, the Unfinished Text has been seen by a number of people around the country thanks to social media, and it has the ability to make the dangers of texting and driving very real to Internet users.  As a result, it is very possible that we will see a decline in the number of people confident in their ability to text and drive at the same time.

Social media is a useful tool for a number of campaigns, whether it is raising awareness about the dangers of texting and driving or any other cause. While we often talk about businesses developing their own presences on social media sites, it is all the more important for non-profit organizations and individual campaigns to utilize these channels to spread their messages quickly and efficiently.  Another major benefit of social media is that conversations happen on social media sites.  If someone wants to start a discussion, sites like Facebook and Twitter are prime places to do just that.

As a result of the virality of this photo on social media channels, the conversation about texting and driving is back on the table, and perhaps more people will understand the risks better.


This article was written by Alyssa McCluskey – Online Marketing Strategist at Dream Local Digital. Alyssa has lived in the Midcoast area for seventeen years. Raised in Hope, Maine, she recently graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Maine at Orono. Alyssa has been a part of the local community for a number of years: she was a member of the Pen Bay Sailfish Swim Team for twelve years, and worked for the Penobscot Bay YMCA by helping to develop youth through swimming lessons and summer camp. She was also a member of the UMaine community during her four years in Orono as a Resident Assistant. Her past community involvement gave Alyssa the skills to interact with people and the desire to get involved and watch local businesses thrive. She is very excited to use her skills as a writer and to learn more about social media by working with Dream Local Digital. To contact Alyssa, email [email protected].

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