When people talk about technology related to distracted driving, they usually mean gadgets that make the roads safer by making distracted driving more difficult. But thanks to the tech “arms race” among car manufacturers, these companies have a economic interest in providing high-tech solutions to distracted driving laws, even if they don’t make you safer. So as we enter into the second annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight some of the most dangerous technologies designed to address distracted driving. Take a look, and leave your thoughts in the comments.
Dashboard Social Media
- Voice-activated Facebook updates, via OnStar.
- Hear friends’ updates by pressing a button on car’s dashboard.
- Voice-activated text messaging.
When the Facebook add-on was first announced, Car Talk’s distracted driving blog stressed its inherent dangers. “Simply put, you cannot pay attention to two different things at the same time,” wrote David Strayer. “If you are updating the status of your Facebook account, you are not paying attention to the road.”
- Google’s robot-operated self-driving cars.
- Google reports tests on 140,000 miles of roadways.
This raises a number of important safety questions. First, the New York Times reports that “the car can be programmed for different driving personalities – from cautious, in which it is more likely to yield to another car, to aggressive, where it is more likely to go first.” But if a many cars are programmed “aggressive,” are accidents more likely? This technology should be viewed as a novelty until it becomes much more advanced and tested. Until then, let’s agree to stay in control of our vehicles, and not to use cell phones behind the wheel.
- Control everything from temperature to volume.
- Sensor tracks finger movement across electronic field.
- German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence.
There are a couple of problems with this model. First, it only works if the driver’s hands are at the traditional “10 and 2” points on the steering wheel. Unless hands are in the exact area, this could lead to distracting confusion. Second, the product’s designers say it combines “with speech recognition in order to allow people to dictate text messages in the car.” But distracted driving technology should make phone communication harder, not easier, behind the wheel.
Video on Navagation Screen
- Video often available in front-seat navigation panel.
- State laws prohibiting TV & Film while driving are easy to get around.
Cars.com writes that in addition to overwriting the film prevention software, many dealers will gladly install monitors on the rear-view mirror, or even the steering wheel. “Whatever you choose,” Cars.com clarifies, “make sure to always keep your eyes on the road while driving and only use the DVD system when the vehicle is parked. Please.”
- Call, text, & play Angry Birds while driving.
- Easy to use despite anti-distraction laws in 30+ states
Most states still consider distracted driving a secondary offence, meaning drivers can only be penalized if they are pulled over for another violation first. So the best way to eliminate the urge to talk, type, or text while driving is to install anti-distraction technology that blocks incoming calls and texts, while sending an automatic reply that you are driving and will return the call or text message when you reach your destination safely. Such technology often switches on automatically when the car is in motion.