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A new report from the Frontier Center, a Canadian-based public think tank, suggests distracted driving laws might actually make roads more dangerous.
Distractions come in many forms when behind the wheel of a car, and 29 percent of Irish men admit that they have narrowly avoided a collision because they were distracted by a passing female.
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.
A new transportation bill before congress seeks to reward states that ban texting and driving with money, but is it ethical?
On Sept. 21, 2009, a nineteen-year-old man struck a couple on a motorcycle while texting behind the wheel of his car. Now, the couple is attempting to sue the woman who was sending the messages to the man, saying that she was encouraging his distracted driving.
The University of Leeds recently published a study titled ‘Two Hands Better Than One’ that showed that eating while driving is more dangerous than using a phone while driving, or drinking while driving.
By using a driving simulator, the UK-based study found that driver reaction time increased by 44 percent while eating behing the wheel. While drinking from a bottle or can behind the wheel, reactions time increase 22 percent. A 37 percent increase in time was found for drivers texting and piloting their car. Surprisingly, a 0.08 blood alcohol level only increased reaction times by 12.5 percent.
Most of this may seem to be common sense, but distracted driving has become a major issue and studies are showing that it’s more than just texting and driving that has become deadly. Raising awareness that eating while driving is even more distracting than texting and driving sheds some light on an activity that some of us are probably guilty of doing behind the wheel on an almost daily basis.
April has been designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and it’s no surprise with all the news surrounding distracting elements in our vehicles.
German automaker Mercedes-Benz has already jumped on board with its driving academy offering free safety seminars in the state of California. Now the California Office of Traffic Safety is creating seven anti-distracted driving ads and the first one has hit the Web, featuring none other than zombies.
We’re not really sure what effect this ad is supposed to have on us. Are zombies coming to stop us from being distracted while driving? Are we going to all become zombies if we text and drive? Is the State of California saying we’re just zombies texting and driving? Oh no, now we’re just more confused.
Watch the first of seven anti-distracted driving ads from the California Office of Traffic Safety after the break.
Potential customers are no good to an automaker if they’re dead so Mercedes-Benz is taking steps to help improve the chances that teens practice safe driving in the spirit of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
“Teens are now faced with more distractions behind the wheel, compared to previous generations of new drivers,” said Marc Hemsworth, senior driving coach at Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy and former LAPD officer and chief driving instructor. “Reinforcing the dangers of distracted driving and being a good role model are a few ways parents can help improve driver safety for their teens and everyone on the road.”
Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy, a California State certified driving school, will kick off the awareness month by offering free programs including a distracted driving demo, Parent and Teen Workshops and driving assessments.
The seminars begin April 2 and will be held at Calabasas High School in Calabasas, Calif. and mark the third year that April has been designated with the awareness campaign.
Distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is more likely among teens over any other age group. Additionally, in the first half of 2011, the number of teen driving deaths increased by 11 percent after an eight-year consecutive decline.
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, as the name would suggest, is observed throughout the country, but California runs an additional “Teen Safe Driving Week,” which begins this Sunday.
A comprehensive new study by AAA has revealed insight into exactly what teenagers are being distracted by behind the wheel, with teenage girls 50 percent more likely than their male counterparts to be on the phone, texting or using another electronic device.
The new study, Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers, is the first of its kind to document distracted driving by teenagers by using in-car video cameras and has revealed a slew of distractions among both males and feemales.
Results of the study show that teenage males were twice as likely to turn around in their seat while driving and more likely to talk with someone outside the vehicle. Females, on the other hand, were 50 percent more likely to reach for an object while driving and 25 percent more likely to be distracted by eating or drinking.
Overall, however, electronic devices were found to be the number one cause of distracted driving; something observed in 7 percent of the clips. A total of 15 percent of videos showed some type of distracted driving. The data also shows that older teenagers were more likely to be distracted, suggesting a complacence once they’re more comfortable behind the wheel.
Driving with multiple passengers was also found to be a major cause of concern. The study shows that loud conversations and “horseplay” were twice as likely when multiple passengers were present (rather than just one), and drivers were six times more likely to have a “serious incident” when there was loud conversation in the car. Conversely, distractions decreased significantly with an adult present.
“Cell phones, texting, personal grooming, and reaching for things in the car were among the most common distracting activities found when cameras were put in new teen drivers’ cars,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. “This new study provides the best view we’ve had about how and when teens engage in distracted driving behaviors believed to contribute to making car crashes the leading cause of death for teenagers.”
“The gender differences with regard to distraction observed in this study raise some points that we’ll want to investigate in future projects,” Kissinger said. “Every insight we gain into driver behavior has the potential to lead us to new risk management strategies.”
Data for the AAA study came from video clips from 50 North Caroline families with teenage drivers. First analysts studied how teens behave during the learner stage with a parent next to them, then for this most recent study a total of 7,858 clips were examined from the first six months of unsupervised driving.
Car crashes remain the number one cause of death among young Americans.
The witch hunt is already in motion for anything that distracts drivers: cell phones, iPods, even GPS with moving maps. Given that, it might seem short-sighted and illogical to market an in-car espresso machine.
Toss logic out the window because the future is now and such a thing exists. That’s right, for a paltry €150, roughly $200, the Handpresso Auto can be yours.
Hours spent in commuter hell will be a bit better with your new toy in tow thanks to strong coffee wherever and whenever the mood should strike. The device plugs right into a 12-volt (cigarette lighter) outlet and transforms your car into a roving Starbucks.
If you had the foresight to buy a ride with a cooled compartment you can even have cream or milk to go with your joe.
There’s no word yet on how your insurance premiums might change upon the purchase, or how long it will take for the government to outlaw the device so feel free to pull shots as you please. Jokes aside, the device is actually designed to be reasonably safe to operate. It takes coffee pods and beeps when the drink is ready.
Pouring the stuff is another matter entirely, but hopefully anyone using one will have enough sense not to do it at a compromising time.
There doesn’t seem to be a steam wand, so frilly lattes and cappuccinos are out of the question, but how much can you really ask from something so portable?
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood doesn’t like seeing people using cell phones behind the wheel, but who does?
It poses danger to everyone in the immediate vicinity, including the reckless chatterbox in question. What, then, should be done if you happen upon one of these miscreants during your morning commute?
LaHood has the answer: pull up to the offender and test your car horn’s limits. Hold the sucker down until your noise overpowers the conversation in violation. Why not, what harm could come of such vigilantism?
While that might be more agressive than what he actually does, LaHood said he drives around Washington on the weekends, seeking out cell phone users in the hopes of honking at them. He sees it as a personal responsibility of sorts.
After all, calling the police in that situation is both hypocritical and illegal. There aren’t any reports that LaHood’s weekend hobby has caused a crash, but thinking there’s a raging maniac beside you might be good cause to look away from the road. Here’s to hoping that nothing bad happens.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the first-ever federally proposed guidelines for in-vehicle electronic devices to automakers, hoping to limit how distracted drivers can get by these new devices.
The proposed voluntary guidelines affects communications, entertainment, information gathering, and navigation devices or functions that are not required to safety operate a vehicle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued out the guidelines hoping to establish a criteria for electronic devices installed by the manufacturer that require visual or manual operation by drivers.
“Distracted driving is a dangerous and deadly habit on America’s roadways – that’s why I’ve made it a priority to encourage people to stay focused behind the wheel,” said Secretary LaHood. “These guidelines are a major step forward in identifying real solutions to tackle the issue of distracted driving for drivers of all ages.”
These new guidelines are the first in a series of guidance documents NHTSA is planning to issue, hoping to limit the use of distracting technology that requires the use of hands and/or diverting the eyes from the road. Some of the recommendations released in the first set of guidelines including limiting the device operation to one hand only. limiting unnecessary visual information in the driver’s field of view, and limiting individual off-road glances to no more than two seconds in duration.
In addition, it also recommends the disabling of operations such as visual-manual text messaging, internet browsing, social media browsing, 10-digit phone dialing, and displaying more than 30 characters of unrelated driving text.
NHTSA hopes to release a future phase that will have guidelines for aftermarket components such as portable electronic devices or navigation units, while a third phase will address voice-activated controls.
Peer pressure has a huge affect on teens. Smoking, drinking… even getting into a car accident.
According to two studies by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm, peer pressure from passengers can result in a car accident when a teen is behind the wheel. We know, it seems like a “duh, of course” kind of conclusion… did we really need a study to tell us that? But what researchers can now prove with studies like these is how peer pressures increases a teen driver’s crash risk.
“These studies help us understand the factors that may predispose teens to drive with multiple friends and how those passengers may contribute to crashes by distracting the driver and promoting risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, tailgating or weaving,” said Allison Curry, a study author. “Knowing this, we can develop programs that work in tandem with current graduated driver licensing laws that limit the number of passengers for teens during their first year of driving.”
In the first study, researchers found that the teens drivers that were most likely to drive with multiple passengers considered themselves thrill seekers and shared similar characteristics that would increase the likelihood of a car accident. The second study looked at teens involved in serious crashes, and drivers that had peer passengers were more likely to be distracted just before a crash.
In terms of male and female peer pressure driving habits, males that drove with passengers were about six times more likely to impress their friends by pulling illegal driving stunts and were twice as likely to drive aggressively just before a crash. Females, on the other hand, hardly ever drive aggressively prior to a crash – and that’s with or without passengers.
This distracted driving PSA isn’t meant to make you LOL, but it will have you saying OMG.
The Department of Transportation will be releasing its new public service announcement, titled OMG, in theaters and at gas stations nationwide, in the next month. This PSA is targeted to teens to remind them to put down the cell phone and stop texting while driving. Employing popular texting phrases like LOL and L8R, the ad shows the dangers that three little characters can potentially cause. And with the holiday season almost upon us – with all the vacation days, parties and high-tech gifts – this PSA is a sobering reminder of how little it takes to get into a car accident while texting and driving.
The PSA will be shown at Regal Cinema movie screens and PumpTop TV at gas stations. Or you can watch it after the jump.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
Ford has just released the Do Not Disturb feature, a new technology that lets parents limit distracted driving habits teens are tempted with.
The new Ford MyKey Do Not Disturb feature allows parents to block their teens from receiving phone calls and text messages while driving. This means that young drivers can keep their eyes on the road instead of on their cell phones. The Do Not Disturb feature saves incoming calls and texts, so teens can check them after they stop the car.
This new Do Not Disturb feature adds another safety element to Ford’s programmable MyKey, which limit a vehicle’s top speed to 80mph and reduces the audio volume. Not only that, but this feature reminds drivers to use a seatbelt, provides earlier low-fuel warnings and can be set to sound chimes between 45 and 70mph.
“MyKey adds a new dimension to auto safety by giving drivers standard technology that encourages safer driving and limits their exposure to risk, regardless of age or experience,” said Peter Patzelt, Ford system architect for MyKey. “MyKey can give parents peace of mind when they hand car keys over to their kids, and ‘Do Not Disturb’ enables parents to control another risk factor when their child gets behind the wheel.”
The MyKey function will be available next year on the Ford Fiesta, and will later be available on other Ford car models.
Parents, if you want to set a good example for your teens while you’re teaching them how to drive, put down your cell phone. A new study out says that parents are prone to check their phones while teaching driving skills.
This study, which was conducted by State Farm, surveyed 517 teens and their parents to find out how teens learn to drive. The study found that 61 percent of teens say their parents have been distracted by their phone at least once while teaching them to drive. It goes on to say that 29 percent of teens say their parents have been distracted sometimes, often, or all the time while giving the driving lesson.
When talking to the parents, 53 percent of them admit to being distracted at least once while teaching their teens how to drive. And disagreeing with what their teens said,only 17 percent of parents say that they are distracted sometimes, often, or all the time.
When it’s the parent’s turn to drive, 54 percent of teens say they have seen parents talk while driving either sometimes, often, or all the time, while 43 percent of parents admit to doing it with their teens present.
Other interesting numbers to come out of this study include that 24 percent of parents and 30 percent of teens say they aren’t spending enough time learning how to drive. Teens need about 100 hours of driving practice before taking the car out on their own, and parents need to practice what they preach – which means paying complete attention to what their teen driver is doing behind the wheel.
[Source: Consumer Reports]
Distracted driving isn’t just limited to texting and talking on your cell phone. Now, more than ever, there are so many things that can shift our attention from the road like GPS units and MP3 players.
To cut down on all the potential distractions that surround you in your car, a company called ALPS has come up with a concept steering wheel that cuts out all those buttons and instead offers touch sensitive pads.
Designed to be safer for drivers, the ALPS wheel trackpad would let you centralize all of the commands you commonly use in your vehicle and put it right in the steering wheel. To check directions or change a tune, all it takes is the sweep of a finger, kind of like using a smartphone. This means you wouldn’t have to take your eyes off the road when you wanted to crank the volume on your stereo. In the future, the ALPS wheel trackpad could even incorporate handwriting recognition, which would make it much easier to type in directions to your GPS.
[Source: Oh Gizmo]
Sometimes a negative can really be a positive. Take the Blackberry outage that had users scrambling for a way to communicate earlier this week. It turns out that traffic accidents and fatalities fell drastically during that time period.
The three-day Blackberry service interruption and its effect on driving were especially evident in the Middle East. The National, a local English-language newspaper, reported that in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, accidents fell by 20 to 40 per cent.
“The roads became much safer when Blackberry stopped working,” said Brig. Gen. Hussein Al Harethi, director of the Abu Dhabi police traffic department.
In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, police said they noticed a significant decline in traffic accidents. The drivers most likely to be involved in distracted driving accidents are young men, and traffic accidents fell 20 per cent in Dubai and 40 per cent in Abu Dhabi. Even better news – there were no traffic fatalities during this time. Both countries have recently launched crackdowns on cell phone usage while driving, so this unplanned experiment couldn’t have happened at a better time.
It may take a few weeks to find out what the service interruption’s impact was on driving habits and accidents in other countries around the world.
[Source: Toronto Star]
Good news for parents – taking a stand against distracted driving, Sprint has just launched a new app that disables smart phone functions while driving.
The Sprint Drive First app locks your cell phone when the car is moving over 10 mph and sends calls automatically to voice mail. It won’t distract you with an annoying beep to let you know you just got a new email or text, and just to let the sender know you can’t get to your phone at the moment, the app sends out an automated, customizable message as a response. Once you come to a stop, the app can tell you’re not moving anymore, so it will unlock your cell phone. Even if you’re stopped in traffic, it won’t unlock your phone unless you’ve been sitting there for a few minutes.
If you want to override the app and turn on your phone, just hit the Exit or 911 buttons, but be warned teenagers – your parents will receive a notification. For even more control, parents can choose up to five numbers that can ring through the locked phone and three apps that can still be used when the car is moving, such as GPS or a music player.
Sprint is the latest cell phone carrier to fight distracted driving with a dedicated app. AT&T recently released a similar app for Blackberry users that sends an auto-reply to texts, emails and calls. And in January, T-Mobile unveiled an app that limits smartphone functions while driving.
Sprint Drive First will cost $2 a month and will only be available on Android. If you’ve got a Blackberry, don’t worry – a version of the app will be available for your phone in the near future.
[Source: Consumer Reports]