Technology Holds Promise of Ending Driver Distraction

Traffic safety advocates have been trying everything to curb distracted driving. That has involved:
–Launching awareness campaigns to drive home the point;
–Funding studies to better understand the issue;
–Promoting anti-distraction laws that penalize drivers for not paying attention.
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But while many drivers say distraction among motorists is a major concern, a huge portion pretend as if this isn’t applicable to them personally. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has identified this as a situation of “Do as I Say, Not as I Do.”

Now, in a somewhat ironic twist, it may be technology – the very thing that keeps us distracted – that holds the power to help us unplug and stay focused on the road. It’s a matter of critical importance considering the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s prediction that motor vehicle deaths will surpass 40,000 this year for the first time in eight years. By some estimates, distraction is blamed for 25 percent of all fatal crashes in Florida.

Let’s start with the a feature called Cellcontrol, recently spotlighted by The Washington Post.

The device is a “little black box,” affixed in the center of a vehicle’s windshield. Using Bluetooth technology, Cellcontrol quarters the vehicle so that passengers in the front seat and rear can still access their cell phones, while the driver cannot. When the vehicle starts, the feature automatically kicks on, virtually disabling the driver’s cell phone. Incoming calls are routed straight to voicemail. Text messages will light the screen for less than a full second before the screen will fade. If a driver does attempt to use the phone while the vehicle is in motion, an alert will remind them not to do so.

The technology, which costs about $130 for private consumers, has been around for a few years. An energy firm in Texas purchased the devices for installation on 500 trucks. Immediately and throughout the three years they have been in use by the company, the number of accidents has been slashed by fully one-third. The device can also send alerts to a parent of a teen, notifying them of cell phone use by a driver, as well as excess speed.

Another potential anti-distraction device is a free cell phone application called LifeSaver. Once the app is downloaded, it taps into global positioning satellite (GPS) to lock the phone when a vehicle is in motion. If the person who owns the phone is a passenger, there is a “passenger unlock” feature. There are also text notification systems for parents who want to keep an eye on their teen driver’s habits.

A similar option is SafeDrive, which rewards drivers for safe driving. Drivers activate the application before driving, and earn points that can be used to obtain discounts from partner companies. There are also competitions in which drivers can compare scores and “win” the points of their opponents.

Finally, an application called DriveMode, which is available to ATT&T users, works to mute incoming calls and texts anytime a driver is in a vehicle traveling more than 15 mph. It will also send an auto-reply to text-senders that the recipient is behind the wheel and will respond later.

Our distracted driving injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale applaud the fact that companies are responding to this growing issue of concern, and hope the virtual effort produces real life results.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:
Can this little black box solve the problem of distracted driving? Nov. 9, 2015, By Matt McFarland, The Washington Post

More Blog Entries:
Mlekush v. Farmers Inc. – Car Accidents and the American Rule, Oct. 30, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Distracted Driving Injury Lawyer Blog