Motor vehicle drivers are tempted by countless activities every time they are on the road. Whether it is a car, truck or motorcycle, drivers often feel the need to multitask. From talking on the phone and eating to personal grooming and manipulating a navigation unit, drivers must avoid distractions whenever possible. Fortunately, some technological advances are helping prevent distractions.
Distracted driving accidents can result in severe injuries such as brain damage, spinal cord damage, paralysis or broken bones. As technology continues to advance, however, experts remain focused on keeping drivers safe.
Technology in cell phones
Even when their cell phone is not in their hand, individuals are thinking about it. They are trained to react to the buzz or chime when a text message comes in or someone calls. Rather than turning phones on and off, many companies are offering apps to remove a cell phone from the equation. These apps are generically referred to as “do not disturb” and serve to prevent texts and calls from coming in when the car is moving.
As software designers and vehicle manufacturers continue to advance toward a world of self-driving cars, in-cab technology is geared toward increasing safety and reducing potential distractions. Again, the cell phone is highlighted as the number one priority and designers reflect that. Through the use of Bluetooth connectivity, heads-up displays (HUD) and talk-to-text technology, the goal is to take electronic distractions out of a driver’s hands and allow them to focus their attention on the road.
Will this work?
Unfortunately, the research has been inconclusive. A University of Utah study found that handsfree phone calls were just as distracting to drivers as actively holding the phone. With these results, the various technological advances might be moot. The only clear way to avoid distractions is to avoid distractions. Put the phone in the glove box. Don’t eat anything until you arrive at your destination. Program your navigation before leaving your driveway.
Fortunately, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) are continuously being improved to keep drivers safe. Things like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist and collision avoidance work in concert to keep the car accident-free.