The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that distracted drivers account for almost 80% of auto crashes and 65% of near-crashes in the United States. A recent Harvard study showed that approximately 636,000 car accidents happen every year because drivers are talking or texting while driving. About 2600 of these wrecks involve fatalities.
The Dallas Morning News published an article today about devices designed to prevent drivers from using cell phones while in motion. Of course none of the devices is fail-safe. Wouldn’t it be easier if we would all just use common sense and not talk on the phone while we drive? Here are excerpts from the article:
Many parents would love to give their teenagers a cellphone that couldn’t be used while driving. Some inventors say they have ways to make that possible. But they may be relying on wishful thinking. One product, $10-a-month software by Dallas-based WQN Inc., can disable a cellphone while its owner is driving. It uses GPS technology, which can tell how fast a person is traveling.
But it can’t know whether the person is driving – and therefore it can needlessly lock a phone.
The DriveAssistT system will disable a phone at driving speeds and send a message to callers or texters saying the person they are trying to reach is too busy driving.
But because that person could be a nondriving passenger, the approach is a blunt tool.
Other product concepts that don’t involve GPS systems have their own flaws. As a result, Parry Aftab, who advises families on technology and safety, suggests that worried parents find another way to stop their kids from calling or texting while driving. Parents are better off taking away a child’s cellphone if it is used improperly, she said.
Concerns are mounting that driving while gabbing or text-messaging on a cellphone, even if it is not handheld, is unacceptably dangerous.
The National Safety Council said this month that there should be a total ban on cellphone use while driving, citing the higher risk of accidents and deaths.
At least 18 states restrict cellphone use – talking or texting – for some or all drivers, according to the insurance industry-funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Yet even in those states, motorists and especially young drivers are hardly deterred.