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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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Technology: The Cause Of (And Solution To?) Distracted Driving

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Techology Distractions Lead to Distracted DrivingTechnology has been a primary culprit in many distracted driving crashing. Too often, drivers are calling, talking, texting, or tweeting while driving. The demand for technology is so rampant that many cars are becoming an iPhone on wheels.

In fact, studies have shown that 1/4 of car crashes involve a gadget.

But while technology is often the culprit when it come to distracted driving, it might also be the solution.

Larry Copeland published a story today in USA Today about technological solutions to help reduce distracted driving. This technology works by blocking cell phone calls and text messages while a vehicle is moving. This technology can be a useful deterrent to prevent young drivers (or even old drivers) from developing dangerous distracted driving habits.

Fleet managers are also utilizing this software to prevent distracted driving by professional drivers. Commercial truck and bus drivers can now be fined up to $2,750 each time they's caught using a cell phone while driving.

"Driving while distracted is quickly becoming the new DUI/DWI," says Daniel Maier, vice president of sales at Illume Software, based in Needham, Mass.

This is more true than you might realize. Texting while driving is actually much more dangerous than drinking and driving. The Huffington Post compared the dangers of texting while driving with driving under the influence with some surprising results — the study showed that texting while driving was much more dangerous than drinking and driving. According to that same investigative project:

  • Drivers are twice as likely to cause a crash if texting than if drinking — Drunk driving increases the likelihood of causing a car crash by 4 times while texting and driving increases the risk by 8 times.
  • Texting drivers need 6 times as much distance to stop than a dunk driver — drunk drivers travel 4 additional feet before stopping while a texting driver travels 25 more feet before stopping
  • Texting drivers typically gaze at their mobile device for 5 seconds — enough time to travel 29 car lengths at interstate speeds.

Copeland's article in USA Today identified several technology-based options to prevent distracted driving:

  • Software that uses on-phone GPS or in-vehicle Bluetooth systems to determine when the vehicle is moving
  • Devices that connect with the vehicle's on-boad diagnostics port or integrate into vehicle electronics or infotainment system, shutting off gadgets while the vehicle is moving. Examples include Cellcontrol, Key2SafeDriving, and Taser International's Protector.
  • Detection, jamming, monitoring, and sensors. These include Trinity-Noble's Guardian Angel, which locks down cell phones when the vehicle is going faster than a pre-set speed.

If you have a smart phone, like Apple's iPhone, there may be an app to help avoid distracted driving dangers. Available apps include:

  • Distracted Driving Laws by Sugar Coded Apps
  • JustDrive by JustDrive, LLC
  • DriveWise: Tech by MediaQuake
  • SAFECELLapp by W2W LLC
  • Griffin DriveSafe by Griffin Technology
  • Dangers of Distracted Driving by SJC Web Design LLC

While these technological solutions may help reduce the risk of distracted driving. The easiest solution is simply put down your cell phone and keep it there while driving. But, while none of these apps eliminate distracted driving dangers (and leaving discussions of privacy concerns to another day), these apps are at least a start to reducing distractions while behind the wheel. To paraphrase the Griffin app, these apps won't make you a safer driver. Only you can do that.

[More on Distracted Driving]

[More on Texting While Driving]

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(c) Copyright 2012 Brett A. Emison

Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.