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Smokers have a small arsenal of gimmicks to keep deadly cravings at bay, but what about teens addicted to texting from behind the wheel? Now they have “thumb socks.”
A car has long been a tool of freedom. It allows an individual to reach any destination at anytime in whatever fashion desired. It’s a rite of passage and a sign of maturity and adulthood. So it’s no surprise, automakers have long directed its focus to the youngest demographic in hopes to instill brand loyalty as soon as possible.However, a new and unexpected opposition is endangering the market– the rising relevance and popularity of the smartphone.
Statistics from the Transportation Department noted that in 1978, 50 percent of 16-year-olds in the United States obtained their first driver’s license. By 2008, the number dropped to only 30 percent. According to Gartner’s lead automotive analyst, Thilo Koslowski, says, “Mobile devices, gadgets and the Internet are becoming must-have lifestyle products that convey status. In that sense these devices offer a degree of freedom and social reach that previously only the automobile offered.” As a matter of fact, Koslowski went as far as saying, “The iPhone is the Ford Mustang of today.”
Sheryl Connelly, Ford Motor Company’s manager of global consumer trends and futuring, continued, “The car used to be the signal of adulthood, of freedom… Now the signal into adulthood for teenagers is the smartphone.”
Connelly explained that driving a car may limit the valuable time a teenager could have used to text their friends our update their statuses. While public transportation is slower, it will still provide teenagers time to engage friends on their mobile device. Yet, Ford is undeterred. K. Venkatesh Prasad, Ford’s senior technical leader of open innovation, responded with, “We are not looking at this to ask how we can get teens to buy a car versus an iPhone. Instead, the car has to become more than just a car. It has to become an experience.”
What that means for Ford is to create cars that can better mesh with a teenager or a young adult’s life by making them more like smartphones– cars that could automatically check in on FourSquare when it arrives at a trendy hangout spot, read text messages aloud, and built in cameras to take profile pictures and videos for the passengers so that they can upload their experiences onto Facebook or YouTube. Shared music networks can be implemented on inboard infotainment systems as well.
Unfortunately, it seems as if sheer driving pleasure and the significance of mobility has been lost to the new generation. A scary thought, but soon a car could even navigate itself so that the teenager could give social networking its undivided attention.
[Source: New York Times]
Depressed teenagers are more likely to cause accidents than those who aren’t, according to a study from the journal Injury Prevention.
The aptly-named journal found that among already-risky teenage drivers, those who are depressed are more likely to speed and not wear seat belts, which journal authors believed was a translation of self-destructive behaviors (underage drinking, unprotected sex, smoking) into the realm of driving. Those at risk of mental distress are more likely to “engage in dangerous driving activity,” according to the study.
Over one thousand young drivers were surveyed for this report, as conducted by the Center for Accident Research and Road Safety at Australia’s Queensland University. They believe that a psychological survey designed to screen young drivers for signs of depression could prevent them from obtaining driver’s licenses, thereby minimizing the risk of dangerous driving on the roads.
Problem is, the researchers haven’t exactly determined what this “risky behavior” is—plenty of people admit to speeding, after all, and this narrow definition doesn’t include more dangerous and distracting activities such as using a cell phone. The report leans heavily on self-reported behavior and not concrete, clinical analysis, which could skew results. More work is needed to make a conclusion—but either way, Dashboard Confessional is a band, rather than an activity to partake in while driving.
17th century Scottish writer William Shenstone once said, “nothing is certain in London but expense.” He should be lucky there weren’t cars back in his era, or he would have spit out his haggis: the average cost of insuring a new driver in Ol’ Blighty is around $10,000 a year.
That’s money that could go towards, well, Junior’s second car, or a year’s worth of college tuition, or a lot of gummi worms. The math breaks down like so: young drivers between the ages of 17 to 22 are charged as much as £546 per month while they have their bright red Learners tags. This converts to $891.72 per month, and multiplied over the course of a year brings the figure to $10,700.64 per year, enough to make Pops seriously angry if Junior’s out joyriding the Jaguar.
Why so pricey? While it’s no surprise that young drivers are more prone to get into accidents, insurance providers assign exorbitant premiums to beginners, leaving many drivers to go about without coverage or have their vehicle insured by their parents. Around 41% of British families do the latter; unfortunately, it’s illegal and insurance companies can forfeit an entire family’s policy if they do find out.
To bring prices down, some insurance companies are considering a plan to install automotive “black boxes” into the cars of beginning drivers, in order to measure sudden acceleration, braking, cornering, and other ne’er-do-well driving shenanigans. This would allow them to customize an insurance policy to a wide range of drivers. Some companies in America are considering the same plan.