In recent years, distracted driving has been listed as one of the top causes for auto accidents, ranking up there with intoxication and fatigue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) latest traffic accident statistics show that about 33,000 lives were lost in traffic accidents in 2010, with a little over 3,000 attributed in some way to driver distraction. That is almost one in ten car accident deaths connected to distracted driving. And since it can be difficult, post-crash, to surmise whether or not a driver had been distracted, these numbers could actually be much higher.
With such a high number of fatalities linked to distraction, it is no wonder that Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood recently revealed his plan for combating this now highly publicized epidemic. Called the “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving,” Lahood’s plan encourages increased education on the dangers of driver distraction, emphasizing the need for driver’s ed programs to adopt detailed lesson plans for teenagers. The plan also urges all states to enforce distracted driving laws (eleven states still have no such legislation).
But perhaps the most unique aspect of Lahood’s “Blueprint” is the call for the auto industry to develop technology which reduces driver distraction. It sounds like a tall order, but, really, these innovations are already in the works. Many companies are eager to come up with alternatives to hands-on cell phone use in automobiles. Apple’s Siri program, for example, allows drivers to use speech control, thereby keeping their hands on the wheel. However, even this technology is lacking in its ability to prevent accidents. Siri, and similar apps, can help to keep a driver’s hands on the wheel, but his or her mind is still concentrating on the phone. Which means the danger is still present.
Thankfully, advancements haven’t stopped with speech control. The following are some of the leading innovations in the fight against distracted driving…
Cellcontrol is a small device which plugs into the On-Board Diagnostics port (often found below the glove compartment) in your car, prohibiting you from using your cell phone while your car is in motion. Rather than making use of GPS chips, Cellcontrol uses the electronics in your car to judge whether you are in motion or not. Once you start driving, your cell phone will lock. When your car is no longer in motion, the phone will unlock and you are once again free to text, etc.
To see Cellcontrol in action, check out this video demonstration:
Designed by SecuraTrac, the Securafone mobile app is a means to monitor and control your teen’s safety while he or she is driving. The Securafone’s full functions are for use by Android phones only, but the app’s full features may be attractive to parents worried over their teen’s driving behaviors. Like Cellcontrol, Securafone disables cell phones when they are traveling in excess of 5 mph — but the app’s features go well beyond disabling a cell phone. By using a “geo-fencing” function, a parent can also keep tabs on their teen’s whereabouts. This function sets perimeters for a teen’s travels, indicating where the teen can and cannot drive. If the teen moves beyond the allowed perimeter, their parents will be notified. And if a teen is speeding, their parents will be notified.
To see the Securafone in action, check the following video:
The fight against distracted driving won’t end over night. For too many people, the temptation to text, check email, and browse social networks while driving is irresistible. But with Lahood’s “Blueprint,” some increased awareness, and the right technology, it may be possible to drastically reduce the number of accidents attributed to driver distraction.
For more information on distracted driving, and some methods to fight it, check out the many articles in the blog category section of the Carpey Law website
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.