How To Stop Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving

- June 11, 2012

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.

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