The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration remains committed to the battle against distracted driving, according to top official David Strickland. The NHTSA Chief suggested that one day the organization would have a national program to deal with distracted driving similar to the programs implemented to address drunk driving and the importance of seat belt use. Some had questioned if the commitment to distracted driving as a safety issue would remain in place after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced his impending retirement. Secretary LaHood made distracted driving something of a personal crusade during his time in the role.
In 2013, several new measures will govern the conduct of Illinois drivers. The new laws include enhanced efforts to combat distracted driving which has been referred to as a "national epidemic" by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The laws govern a range of behaviors that have been connected to deadly driving incidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a study of all the motor vehicle crashes that occurred in 2010. According to that study, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 10 percent of fatal crashes. In addition, distracted driving was cited as a factor in 18 percent of the total crashes where someone suffered an injury. The study further broke down the numbers for cars, light trucks and large trucks. In crashes involving all vehicle types, cell phone use was a prevalent factor.
Cell phones, iPods, and other portable electronic devices have been the source of significant scrutiny among traffic safety experts. Recently, the efforts of automakers to make their vehicles more appealing to technophiles have also drawn attention. As car accidents involving distracted driving continue to plague U.S. roadways, many consumers now believe that in-car technologies have become too distracting and dangerous. The survey by Harris Interactive also points to a generational gap regarding the importance of connectivity in a motor vehicle.
A study conducted at Ohio State University has demonstrated that multi-tasking between two visual tasks is more difficult than multi-tasking between a visual task and an audio task. The study has implications for those concerned about distracted driving. The laws that have been passed to ban texting and driving address situations where a driver is splitting his or her attention between the visual task of driving the visual task of reading or writing a text message.
The dangers of texting while driving may go beyond the distraction and reduced reaction time that comes with it. In addition to causing car and truck accidents by taking the driver's attention off the road, texting while driving may also inspire road rage.
Putting a stop to texting and driving is a top priority among many safety experts. Several devices claim to be able to prevent people from engaging in this form of distracted driving. A device developed at an Indian university is taking the fight against texting and driving to a new level.
Though it is often cited as a major contributor to unsafe behavior among teens, peer pressure can also be a tool for positive change. Consumer Reports recently released a study indicating that peer pressure is increasingly being used to stop teen drivers from texting while driving. While teen drivers still suffer elevated rates of fatal car crashes, particularly when other teens are in the car with them, the results might show that efforts to accurately portray the dangers of distracted driving are working.
Ever since cell phones became popular almost 20 years ago, Chicago residents have heard about the dangers of using them while driving. However, after almost two decades of research, there is still debate as to whether cell phones increase the likelihood of a serious car or truck accident. In addition, there is data that suggests the use of a hands-free device instead of handheld devices does nothing to increase driving safety.
The Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board called out the makers of electronic products that contribute to distracted driving for putting sales figures over the safety of their consumers. In December, the NTSB called for a complete ban on cell phone use while driving in an effort to reduce car accidents caused by distracted driving. The focus on technology producers follows an announcement by Intel Corp. that it will be devoting significant resources to furthering its "vehicle infotainment" line of technology products. The issue is among several being discussed at the distracted-driving forum in Washington D.C.