Distracted driving is getting worse and legislation isn’t working.

April 20, 2018
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Sam Diamond

We need a new approach.

A recent report by Zendrive monitored 4.5 million drivers, who between them traveled 7.1 billion miles. They compared the results with a period a year earlier. Around two-thirds of those monitored used a mobile phone at the wheel at least once.

This is despite comprehensive bans on mobile phone use at the wheel. Phone use increased dramatically across the US, even in 14 states that have put into place handheld phone bans. Overall, phone use among drivers is accelerating at an alarming pace.

So what’s the solution? The legislation that many safety campaigners imagined would curb in-car mobile phone use has clearly not worked.

Additionally, it seems unlikely that more education and awareness campaigns will have the impact that is necessary to stop distracted driving and decrease on-road deaths.

Clearly staying connected on the road is deemed too tempting to drivers, who seem willing to risk safety in return for the use of their phones.

What’s needed is a way to make drivers feel like they’re connected while removing the direct causes of accidents--looking away from the road and taking hands off the wheel.

Automotive companies seem to be realizing this. The new Mercedes infotainment systems are built around voice control, although they do seem to still require a lot of cognitive capacity, which could still be distracting and dangerous. Systems such as Android Auto and Carplay seek to stop drivers from using their phones by patching them into the car’s infotainment systems, but the voice component leaves a lot to be desired in both cases, meaning drivers can still be distracted by the screen. What’s more is that not everyone can afford the latest systems or brand new cars--they require a solution that can be retrofitted into their vehicle. And OEMs are also unable to deal with the problem, as today’s cars will be on the road for many more years--many drivers won’t upgrade for a decade.

So, it’s clear that the solution to distracted driving should come through technology--not through legislation. There are obvious challenges to this, but here at German Autolabs we’re confident that, by treating the problem as one of technology and admitting that we all want to stay connected on the road, the problem can be solved.

Takeaways

  • A huge number of drivers are still texting and using their mobile phones behind the wheel.
  • This is despite the roll out of legislation banning mobile phone use while driving.
  • The number of deaths from distracted driving is increasing.
  • We need a technological solution - and this is not currently being provided by car manufacturers.
Sam Diamond
Sam Diamond
Story and Social

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