The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently conducted a survey on distracted driving, and found that at any average daylight moment, 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone or other electronic device behind the wheel.
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There’s a fighting chance you’re guilty of it and so is your neighbor because according to a new Harris Poll, 80 percent of drivers participate in distracting behavior behind the wheel.
As pressure mounts to curb distracted driving, one North Carolina town has made an unprecedented move, banning cell phone use in cars, including Bluetooth.
While most states have some type of ban on cell phone use while driving, Bluetooth hand’s free devices are promoted as a safer alternative – even if the jury is still out on if it really is. The State of North Carolina currently has a ban on hand held devices for drivers 18 and under, but those over the age of 18 have no restrictions. That is, unless you live in Chapel Hill.
The town of roughly 60,000 has just passed a law (with a vote of 5-4) prohibiting even the use of hand’s free devices like Bluetooth. The ban takes effect June 1st.
The first of its kind, the rules aren’t as strict as they first appear, however, with exceptions made for calling family members, or placing emergency calls. Plus, as a secondary offense, it’s not something that you can be pulled over for.
Cell phones behind the wheel— they’re a deadly plague on traffic safety that cause frequent and preventable crashes. Even worse is the fact that scores of mature drivers are just as guilty as any number of 16-year-old sidewalk terrors more concerned with texting back than taking the wheel.
One company is offering a solution that could help cut down on the number of cellular offenders endangering themselves and others. Scosche is offering a device that blocks cell usage in a car while the vehicle is in motion called CellCONTROL.
As with any new technology, compatibility is always a concern. All the same, Scosche insists that the CellCONTROL is broadly compatible and easy to use. Any car sold in the U.S. in 1996 or later was made with an OBD-II interface, which is all their system needs to work within the car. They also claim that it works with more than 1,200 different phones such as BlackBerry 4.5 and higher, Android 2.1 and above, yet the iPhone is unmistakably missing from their list.
Once installed, drivers will find that their phone is only accessible via bluetooth headset. Email, SMS and really everything that would take your eyes off the road is out of reach until the wheels stop spinning.
While this is certainly a step in the right direction, we wonder how many people will really use this device. It costs $129.95 on the company site, so after shipping and all costs, you’re likely to drop at least $150 when you can just as easily put the phone out of reach, say in a briefcase behind your seat.
The bluetooth headset should still reach at that range and you won’t be tempted to send snarky tweets while steering. Another obvious question: what about your passengers? Unless you’re the antisocial type or always drive alone, it would be a real nuisance for the co-pilot to be locked up as well.
That said, there are some great applications which are surefire selling points. Parents looking for a way to enforce safe driving habits probably wont bat an eyelash at a one-time expense to keep the kiddies safe. To sweeten the deal, the CellCONTROL gets a designated administrator, say mom or dad, and notifies them if someone tampers with the device.
It’s a good idea that parents will probably buy into, but unless insurance companies start offering discounts to drivers who install these things, it seems like a hard sell to the adult crowd.
Audi is taking the chance at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show off the new bells and whistles added to the 2013 A3. While a lot of the new stuff is boring, there are some gems to be found that prove Audi is taking the same steps as Mercedes-Benz to keep the tech crowd happy.
For starters, the new A3 has something called a phone box. What makes it so cool is how it works: just drop your smart phone into what would otherwise just look like part of the center console and voila, you’re done. Putting your phone into the cellular Shangri La, instantly imbues it with a much larger antenna, thanks to Audi using a flat planar antenna to connect the phone with the car’s external antenna. Still sort of ho-hum, we know. The company is working on introducing wireless device charging to the phone box, but it’s not ready yet.
It’s alright if you weren’t impressed by that, this next thing will wow you. Audi tinkered with their heads-up display system to tweak out some new features that we have to admit are pretty sweet. Previous HUDs, not exclusive to Audi, would show you relevant information like your speed, gas level etc., but that wasn’t enough. The egg heads managed to outdo themselves this time by marrying the navigation system with the HUD to create an experience where things appear at seemingly different distances. Translation: there will be turn arrows telling you where to go, just like a video game. Best of all, those arrows are going to look like they’re actually sitting on the upcoming turn.
The same system can also alert drivers to pedestrians stepping into the street, how far they are from the vehicle and even the direction the potential manslaughter victim is travelling in relation to the car. Still not impressed? There’s more: in hilly terrain an arrow will tell you which direction the road travels outside your field of vision. Best of all, Audi is already trying to one-up themselves. They say future versions of the technology will allow the driver to toggle between private HUD viewing, or sharing it with the passengers, selectable by seat.
Other new features include a super-thin pop-up infotainment screen, an Nvidia chip to improve the graphical interface and a new “touch wheel” similar to present day laptop controls to control it all. The air conditioning controls are also better, but who cares? There’s way cooler stuff to play with.
Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Breakfast Show and said, “There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that. That’s one way. But you have to have good laws, you have to have good enforcement, and you have to have people take personal responsibility. That’s the bottom line.”
LaHood went on to say that texting or talking on the phone while driving has claimed nearly 5,500 lives in the last year and that nearly 500,000 people have been injured.
To raise awareness, the DOT has launched a new online campaign called “Faces of Distracted Driving” in which victims speak out about how their lives have changed by making such a simple mistake.
Currently there is no federal law prohibiting people from using cell phones while driving, although some states do have anti-texting laws, while some states only allow handsfree phone usage.
The DOT is looking at software solutions which will detect when the phone is being used while driving, although there are still plenty of glitches to work out, after all a passenger could be using a cell phone so how will the phone know? Since this restricting technology is not mandated by the Government, it will boil down to individuals who want to have the technology for their own benefit, or companies can install such devices in their fleet vehicles.
Paul Atchley, a scientist at the University of Kansas believes these tech features won’t be enough and many people will be able to work around the issue. He believes the only thing that can work is to change people’s attitude.
Do the sensible thing, don’t text or talk while driving, and everybody wins.
Multi-tasking is an essential part of your day, we get that. But that doesn’t mean you should carry it over to every aspect of your life. Like driving, for example. When you’re behind the wheel, you should be paying attention to the road and nothing else. And while we all know that’s what we should be doing, we don’t always follow this advice – especially when it comes to putting down our cell phone.
A recent survey from the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies that polled 1,000 motorists found that 90 percent believe that talking on the phone while driving should be illegal. But while they believe this, 51 percent of those polled admit they have used their phone while out on the road.
Here are some more numbers from the survey: Of the 356 respondents who said they have talked on a hand-held cell phone while driving, 43 percent said it should be illegal to do so. Of the 315 respondents who have talked on a hands-free cell phone while driving, 11 percent said it should be illegal to do so. And 80 percent of the 133 respondents who have texted while driving said that should be illegal. Almost a third of younger drivers (ages 18 to 34 years) said they have texted while driving.
But talking or texting on the phone isn’t the only thing we like to do. The survey goes on to point out that 77 percent of respondents have observed other motorists apply makeup, shave and brush their hair (only 8% admitted to doing it themselves). Also 18 percent of respondents have seen others change their clothes while driving, but only 3 percent would admit to doing so themselves.
After the jump, you’ll find a list of what the respondents admit to doing behind the wheel.
You look at the survey headline: “86 Percent Of Teen Drivers Are Distracted.” Of course, you go right to the evils of the cell phone – talking, texting, sending and reading email – or using advanced in-car features. Results from a survey conducted by AAA and Seventeen magazine found that 86 percent of those polled drove distracted – but they consider adjusting the radio and eating in the car as distractions.
In its survey of 2,000 drivers ages 16-19, the two distractions that teens engaged in most were adjusting the radio (73 percent) and eating (61 percent). Coming in third was talking on a cell phone ( 60 percent).
Cell phone use is also more common with the current generation of teens, and many studies have found that using a cell is distracting whether you’re using a handset or hands-free device.
And texting isn’t lost in this survey – thought to be one of the riskiest behaviours to partake in behind the wheel. About 28 percent of respondents admitted to texting while driving. This number may not seem as high as the others, but it should be noted that this 28 percent averaged sending 23 texts a month.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
You multitask, so your cell phone should too. It’s a good thing the T-Mobile USA has just announced that the new Garminfone will be coming to a car near you soon.
This is the first Android-powered smartphone that comes equipped with a fully integrated Garmin premium navigation system. Set to hit stores soon, the full-touch 3G Garminphone is sleek and stylish, and sports large 3.5″ screen, so you can clearly see how to get to your destination. A few of the other cool features this phone will come with include:
- Integrated Navigation + Smartphone Experience: Garminfone delivers navigation capabilities beyond what other smartphones and standalone navigation devices provide. Customers can navigate to an address simply by clicking on it from a text message or e-mail, contact, calendar appointment, or web page. Garminfone can even remember where you are parked and navigate you back to your car. The 3-megapixel camera with autofocus automatically geotags images so you can navigate back to where your family vacation photos were taken, e-mail geo-tagged images to friends and family members, or post geo-tagged pictures on the Web for others to enjoy. Helpful Garmin travel applications such as dynamic, real-time traffic; weather local events; movie listings; and gas prices are pre-installed and easy to access and use.
- Garmin Navigation: Driving, walking and public transportation navigation with voice and on-screen directions and automatic re-routing are deeply integrated into the smartphone features of Garminfone to simplify navigating your daily life. On-board North American maps offer fast and reliable directions – whether in or out of cell phone coverage – and multiple overlapping positioning technologies ensure Garminfone customers have one of the best location and navigation experiences a smartphone can offer. In addition, Garminfone utilizes text-to-speech technology to speak street names, and the screen automatimobically switches between day and night modes for easier viewing while driving.
- Garmin Voice Studio: Garminfone is the first to feature Garmin Voice Studio, an Android application, which allows customers to record and share custom voice directions from family and friends.
This cell phone also includes a convenient charging window and dashboard mount that lets you navigate and charge the phone’s battery simultaneously. Other cool features include easy access to personal and work e-mail, including support for Microsoft Exchange e-mail, contacts and calendar; social networking; instant messaging; an advanced music player; and a 3-megapixel autofocus camera.
[Source: Press Release]