Distracted driving is nothing new to Pennsylvania, and since cell phones have become more ubiquitous, distracted driving has become an even greater problem. The Pennsylvania legislature has tried to keep up by putting a ban on texting while driving. This law, which went into effect on March 8, 2012, makes texting behind the wheel a primary offense, meaning police officers can pull an offender over for texting alone. While the law also bans reading emails and web browsing, distracted driving remains a persistent problem.
1 in 10 Traffic Deaths Linked to Distracted Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 3,100 of the 33,000 deaths that occurred in 2010 can be attributed to distracted driving. Other groups believe the number attributable to distracted driving is even higher.
Regardless of the dispute over the numbers, the bottom line is that cell phones have revolutionized our culture, and though the law tries to keep up, it is the industry itself that may lead the way into the future, and that is helping to fix a problem that, the tech industry, helped to create. Technology manufacturers have begun engineering new gadgets designed to limit distractions in motor vehicle operation.
The New Devices
One of these devices is called Cellcontrol. It can be found online and through dealers such as Lifecycle Mobile in Berwyn. Cellcontrol essentially limits phone usage while the operator’s car is in motion. Instead of using GPS to detect motion, this device uses the car’s own electronics. The device contains a “trigger” which plugs into the car’s diagnostic port inside the passenger compartment. Once engaged, the cell phone’s owner (a worried mother, for example), can then set rules governing the phone’s use on the road.
Once in the hand of the controller, the rules can be set according to that controller’s specific wishes. For example, it can allow only hands-free calling, or incoming calls only, or calls but no texts. It can also control email, Internet browsing capabilities, and app use.
By plugging into the car’s own system, the device does not mistakenly engage when the user is riding in someone else’s car as a passenger.
Another new gadget to limit distracted driving is called SecuraFone. This is a mobile app offering many of the same features as the Cellcontrol. It also has a feature by which parents may set geographic limitations on where their teenager may drive, and alerts them when those limitations are violated. It can also allow a parent to monitor the vehicle’s speed.
As distractions on the road are on the rise due to new portable technology arriving daily, that same technology can help solve the problem it helped create. Lawmakers have come up with some solutions and that process is sure to continue, but the tech industry itself may lead the way into a safer future on the roads. These two devices are just an example of what the future might hold.