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JoJo Talks About New Album, Dangers of Texting While Driving

According to a recent survey in “Car and Driver,” texting while driving is more dangerous than operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and those who send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a car crash. While she fortunately hasn’t been one of those statistics, singer JoJo (http://twitter.com/JoJoistheway) felt strongly enough about the issue to step up and encourage her fans to take part in AT&T’s “It Can Wait” pledge to stop texting while driving. Recently, ShockYa had a chance to talk to the 21-year-old — who has sold more than three million albums worldwide — about why she’s involved in the campaign, as well as her work on her new album, “Jumping Trains.” The conversation is excerpted below:

ShockYa: The “It Can Wait” pledge seems like part of a nice, proactive campaign. Tell me about how you came to be involved in it.

JoJo: We’re basically just encouraging people, especially in my generation, to realize that there’s no text that’s important enough to risk your safety and the safety of others. So it’s really about encouraging people to take the challenge to not text and drive, to not pay attention to your phone — there are other, better choices, like just focusing on your drive and how you can make it safer. It’s something that’s a really, really big issue. We all think that we’re fine and the exception to the rule — “Oh, I can handle this!” — but it’s such a dangerous thing. It caught my attention because I’ve fallen victim to wanting to do certain things on my phone, and I wanted to challenge myself as well.

ShockYa: Out here in California they’ve gone to the hands-free cell phone law, and other states have that as well. Have you had the experience of personally being ticketed for texting or talking while driving?

JoJo: No one I know has gotten hit with a ticket, but I was definitely a habitual offender of texting while driving. I feel like I’m a really good driver and a great multi-tasker, but I had a couple close calls of almost rear-ending someone. I was just like, “This is ridiculous, it’s not worth it!” Imagine if the outcome was different, if I had been one second later looking up. So this campaign is all about bringing that thought — it’s not worth it — to the forefront of people’s [minds].

ShockYa: I’m a bit older and so the big boom in texting came along after adolescence for me. Kids these days — if I can say that somewhat tongue-in-cheek — seem so wired and plugged in, consumed with an immediate response.

JoJo: Right, it’s just indoctrinated into our culture — especially in my generation. It feels good to sometimes get that immediate response, but we really need to change the way we think about things. And not to get dramatic, but it really is a serious issue because it’s so dangerous — one of the most dangerous things you could do in your travel experience.

ShockYa: So what’s your phone of choice?

JoJo: I have an iPhone, which I’ve had for about a year, I’d say. I don’t really keep up with the new models and stuff because I think it would blow my mind. I don’t know how to keep up with [technology] sometimes — I’m like, “Do I have a phone? Does it work? Great!”

ShockYa: Has taking the pledge and working with this campaign curtailed your habits or do you still find that you’re a high-volume texter?

JoJo: Texting is a really great thing for me since I’m a singer. I try not to be on the phone for hours. For example, if I’m laying in bed instead of making a phone call I’ll text. And that’s just because I try to keep my speaking to a minimum, especially if I’m in the recording process. And I’ve become a little more obsessed with vocal health. It’s actually a really helpful thing when you’re trying to be a little more conservative with your voice.

ShockYa: I marvel a bit at your maturity in that respect, because I imagine all that performance can certainly take a toll. When did you first start thinking like that, and are there any other remedies that you used to soothe the vocal cords?

JoJo: That’s a great question. The reason why I started thinking about it and taking it seriously was really because I had to. I started to have a lot of vocal problems, especially in the recovery aspect [from shows]. So I just started to do things that felt good to me — once I got off stage, I would have a hot drink and I would try to keep the talking to a minimum. I would either go on complete vocal rest or just be more conservative with my tone. So I maybe started doing this six to nine months ago. I started to realize that this is what I’ve got — it’s not like I can go turn in my saxaphone for another one. So I really wanted to be like, “Hey, this is mine and I’m going to treat it with love and respect like you would any other instrument. And as far as other remedies, I just believe in really, really hydrating yourself and taking a good vitamin regimen. I believe in steaming and treating your allergies, because I have a lot of sinus problems, and it is helpful to take care of that for your overall vocal health.

ShockYa: What are you working on now?

JoJo: Yeah, I’m constantly recording and I’m getting ready to put out my new album “Jumping Trains,” which I’m really thrilled about. It’s coming out this spring, but I’m still in the studio and still playing with different ideas. I’ll probably never stop recording, all the way up until when we press the album, because I love to express myself and who knows what will come up?

NOTE: For more information on the campaign, and to take the pledge not to text and drive on Facebook, visit https://apps.facebook.com/itcanwait/

Written by: Brent Simon

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A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brent Simon is a three-term president of LAFCA, a contributor to Screen International and Magill's Cinema Annual, and film editor of H Magazine. He cannot abide a world without U2 and pizza.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. OTTER

    January 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    When a celebrity like this speaks out, I think it helps get people to think twice about texting and driving.  I also
    think legislation has value in raising public awareness in forums like
    this one but it will be difficult to solely legislate our way out of
    this issue. I just read that over 3/4 of teens text daily – many text
    more than 4000 times a month.  New college students no longer have email
    addresses!  They use texting and Facebook – even with their professors.
     Tweens (ages 9 -12) send texts to each other from their bikes.   This
    text and drive issue is in its infancy and its not going away.

    I
    decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year
    old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting
    driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the
    user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS
    based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences call
    ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled.  I think if
    we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now
    and not just our laws. 

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER LLC
    OTTER app

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