The increased popularity of cell phones, text messaging and portable electronic gadgets has increased the potential for drivers to become distracted. In response to the rise in distracted driving accidents, automakers and the makers of phones and cell phone applications have offered potential technological solutions to the problem. While additional gadgets and apps may help combat the problem of distracted driving, some safety experts believe that technology will not be enough to stop the increase in distracted driving car accidents.
A panel held during the Governors Highway Safety Association conference last month concluded that driver education and a change in our attitudes toward the dangerous behavior will be necessary put a stop to the rise in distracted driving incidents. Researchers urged safety groups to emphasize ways in which drivers could be encouraged to adopt safer driving behaviors, rather than on technology designed to make using distracting devices impossible. The commissioner of the California Highway Patrol suggested that drivers should be encouraged to view driving the same way they do riding on an airplane: Accept that they will be disconnected from texts, email and phone calls for the duration of the travel time.
One researcher, an engineering professor at Montana State University, suggested that the problem was a growing need for instant information gratification. The belief that we should be accessible and connected at all times is a relatively new phenomenon, only made possible by recent innovations. A distracted driver is placing the need to stay connected above the increased potential for harm caused by the distraction. The experts involved in this panel believe that changing this attitude is the key to fixing the problem of distracted driving.
Source: The Huffington Post, “To Fix Distracted Driving, Experts Say Target The People, Not The Tech,” by Bianca Bosker, 27 August 2013