Stopping distracted driving accidents through technology

Distracted driving motor vehicle accidents caused by cellphone use have skyrocketed within the past decade.

Distraction.gov indicates that approximately 660,000 drivers are using cellphones while behind the wheel of a car at any given time during the day. The National Safety Council-a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing injury and death on U.S. roadways-states that 25 percent of all vehicle crashes today are the result of texting or talking on a mobile device. Further, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that mobile devices are the number one distraction for teen drivers.

And the list of statistics goes on and on.

Present regulation

Many states have passed distracted driving laws limiting or prohibiting the use of hand-held mobile devices or texting while driving. Communities have also done their part. Awareness campaigns and initiatives about the dangers of distracted driving have been promoted on TV networks, social media pages, and billboards all across America.

Yet these measures just don't seem to be enough. More solutions are needed to really combat the out-of-control rise in auto accidents caused by drivers using cellphones behind the wheel.

According to experts interviewed in the British Medical Journal, technological advancements are the real solution to stopping the epidemic.

Is technology the most effective answer?

Community educational efforts may seem like a great way to get people to listen and discontinue the behavior, but there really is no evidence to support their success, they say.

Further, the experts conclude that state laws passed to prohibit the use of cellphones or texting behind the wheel may not be very effective either. A law can get passed, but if it's not enforced enough or at all, then it's essentially useless, they indicated. Additionally, many state distracted driving laws are secondary, which means that the driver must first commit a traffic violation before getting a ticket for violating a cellphone law.

So, technological advances may be the most effective way to curb the continuous rise in auto accidents from distracted driving.

Examples

The experts point to several examples such as:

  • Mobile device software that prevent drivers from texting if a vehicle in motion is detected
  • Automatic voicemail messages that inform callers to leave a message if there's an indication the person they are contacting is driving
  • Cellphone pull-over areas that offer free Wi-Fi
  • Vehicle sensors that would askew cellphone reception when a car's ignition is turned on

However, for any of these advances to really work, cellphone makers, software companies, and automobile manufacturers must all be on board and take proactive measures to create such technology.

As more and more people rely on cellphones every day, it's likely auto accidents from distracted drivers will continue in the U.S. unless something that really works is done.