Connected Cars Bring Dangerous Distractions

The idea that is safe dis­turbs David Teater. “If we con­tin­ue down the cur­rent path of enabling dri­vers to engage in all sorts of info­tain­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions activ­i­ties, we may be nor­mal­iz­ing a dan­ger­ous prac­tice that will be dif­fi­cult to unwind in the future,” he said.

“Cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists have looked at this for years — the human brain can­not do more than one chal­leng­ing activ­i­ty at a time. It switch­es back and forth.”

The U.S. Sen­ate Com­merce, Sci­ence and Trans­porta­tion Com­mit­tee held a round-table  enti­tled “Over-Con­nect­ed and Behind the Wheel,” with auto indus­try, safe­ty advo­cates and tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies present.

The Nation­al Safe­ty Coun­cil has embarked on a cam­paign to edu­cate dri­vers about the dan­gers of cog­ni­tive dis­trac­tions.

Research has shown that dri­vers absorbed in cell­phone con­ver­sa­tions only recall 50 per­cent of the objects they pass on the road.

Teater stressed that the NSC is not “anti-tech­nol­o­gy.” He applaud­ed inno­va­tions such as lane devi­a­tion warn­ings and for­ward-crash avoid­ance sys­tems that will help save lives.

The U.S. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion said it will require auto man­u­fac­tur­ers to install tech­nol­o­gy that lets cars and trucks warn each oth­er if a crash is immi­nent. The vehi­cle-to-vehi­cle tech­nol­o­gy would use radio sig­nals to trans­mit infor­ma­tion and could pre­vent 80 per­cent of acci­dents that don’t involve an impaired dri­ver or mechan­i­cal prob­lems. No date has been set yet for the rule to go into effect.

“We ought to invest every­thing into this,” Teater said. “Too much of the focus today seems to be on pro­vid­ing dri­vers with the same fea­tures and con­nec­tiv­i­ty as they have on their smart­phones.”




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