Way back in November, Cooper and I went to Chicago for the taping of Oprah's show on distracted driving (it aired in January).
Oprah's senior producer had invited us because we'd been in touch about TheMotherhood’s campaign to reduce distracted driving, Mom Sends The Msg, and recommended people she might interview and include in the segment.
The reason I'm bringing this up now is during the 'after show' I asked Oprah a question that, as it turns out, ties into the great op-ed Oprah wrote for the New York Times today, called Dnt Txt N Drv, about the dangers of using your cellphone while driving.
Here's what happened at Harpo Studios.
The show itself was an intense and emotional hour and a half – no surprise given the topic - and afterward, Oprah took off her high-heels and curled up in her chair to talk with us, her audience. She was relaxed, found ways to lighten the moment, talked about how much the issue of distracted driving mattered to her (“texting and driving is just dumb” …”everyone thinks they can handle it”), asked to hear some of the personal stories from the audience and took questions.
The 'after show' was coming to a close when I decided to ask Oprah a question that had been on my mind: "Would you consider, if Harpo doesn’t have one already, putting a distracted driving policy in place before this show airs?”
And without missing a beat, Oprah answered, “Tomorrow.”
At this point, Oprah was leaning forward, focused, with both stockinged feet on the ground. We talked awhile about it - actually, I stood and she talked to me and all of us about how much it mattered to her that her employees not use their cellphones when behind the wheel. Audience members then raised their hands to tell their own stories about on-the-job, distracted driving scary stories and near misses, and Oprah was right there.
So today, when Oprah said in her op-ed, "... I instituted a policy at my company that forbids employees from using their phones for company business while driving," that moment in Harpo studios came rushing back.
And here we are five months later, and Oprah is taking this on in such a big way and, as a result, many companies will put strict "No Phone Zone" policies in place, and we'll likely see more people pull over to the side of the road before talking on their cellphones and others who will even stop texting while driving (imagine that!). All so cool.