Technology already exists which can reduce distracted driving accidents
The New York Times recently published an article on texting, wherein it was observed that people overwhelmingly tell pollsters that texting while driving is unacceptable and dangerous. The problem is that they continue to do it anyway since “they can’t resist.” The Texas Department of Transportation reports that distracted driving now causes one in every four car crashes on Texas highways. These crashes cause thousands of serious injuries and hundreds of deaths annually in our state. Cellphone use-and especially texting while driving-is the primary distracted driving culprit. Technology already exists which can save lives and prevent injuries by eliminating the temptation to use a cellphone while driving.
Science News reports that the use of cellphones significantly impedes what a driver sees and processes. That, in turn, slows down reaction time. Studies have shown that the risk of an accident quadruples when a driver is engaged using a cellphone whether for texting or for conversation. Part of the distracted driving conundrum lies in actually convincing people that multitasking while driving is extremely risky. A neuroscientist was quoted as saying that many people assume-wrongfully-that they can successfully perform multiple tasks such as driving and texting simultaneously. He stated that while “supertaskers” do exist, they comprise only about 2.4 percent of people tested and that the other 97.5 percent are “kind of kidding themselves.”
The NY Times article on texting relates the story of a chemical engineer who has developed a device which would block incoming texts, emails and phone calls from ever reaching a driver. For financial assistance he partnered with an insurance company and Sprint. The central idea behind the project was that a cellphone network carrier-such as Sprint-could shut down a driver’s phone automatically “without giving the driver that initial choice to opt in or out.” This made the device distinctly different from voluntarily downloaded anti-texting apps. Tests performed by Sprint this year show that the blocking system performs excellently and is highly capable of blocking calls, emails, texts and other data while a car is in motion. Unfortunately, the project appears stalled since Sprint has had second thoughts as to whether there is an actual customer demand for such a device.
While cellphone companies may be reluctant to automatically block calls and texts to a driver’s cellphone, apps exist which allow you to voluntarily opt to block incoming texts and calls while your car is moving. For example, AT&T customers can voluntarily request the AT&T Drive Mode app. When a car reaches 25 miles per hour, incoming callers receive a message-similar to an out-of-office alert-letting callers know the call or message recipient is driving and cannot talk. When the vehicle slows to 25 mph for 5 minutes, the app turns off and the recipient can review the calls.
Unfortunately, most cellphone customers have little to no interest in voluntarily avoiding texting while driving distractions. As a result, few people opt to download any of the anti-texting driving apps currently on the market. A person quoted in the NY Times article said that people were not downloading anti-texting apps since the pressure to stay in constant touch with one’s friends is too strong to resist.
Distracted-driving accidents are preventable accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a driver who was distracted by a cellphone, you should call a Texas attorney with experience in handling motor vehicle accident cases.