The Question of How To Stop Distracted Driving Is Stumping Feds, Automakers and Cell Phone Companies
Drivers texting and talking on their cell phones is a problem being addressed by federal regulators, state and local governments, automakers and mobile device makers. So far, after an aggressive campaign by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, threats of federal regulations and numerous state laws, drivers insist on staying connected. The problem is most acute among younger drivers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed a number of drivers asking about the use of mobile devices while driving. Of high school seniors, 58% admitted to texting or emailing while behind the wheel. Juniors responded that 43% have texted or emailed while driving.
Mobile device makers have introduced a number of applications to limit the use of cell phones when they detect the vehicle is in motion. The problem is that the device cannot discern between the driver and passengers. In addition, users could be riding on public transportation. As with all apps, they can be disabled, further limiting its effectiveness.
Over three fourths of the states have passed laws restricting cell phone use while driving. So far many people have ignored these laws and the public service announcements alerting people to the dangers. Federal regulators have asked automakers to limit devices that allow drivers to be connected with the outside world. The automakers have pushed back because customers are demanding the latest in communications technology.
Ultimately it may be driverless car technology that will solve the distracted driver problem. Google is testing self-driven cars in Nevada and California. The Feds are experimenting with 3,000 accident avoidance prototypes in Ann Arbor, Mich.