Cogosense Blog

Cogosense's Driver Behaviour Blog

US DOT Gives Auto Industry Voluntary Guidelines to Minimize Driver Distraction

The NHTSA has taken another step forward to combat distracted driving by proposing voluntary guidelines for automobile manufacturers to help minimize in-vehicle driver distraction.  The goal is to balance the technological innovation that consumers want with keeping our roads safe and drivers focused on driving.  The focus is to limit secondary tasks (communications, entertainment, and information gathering etc.) that the agency believes will interfere with a driver's ability to safely control the vehicle.

You can get more detailed information through the NHTSA website and press release:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/U.S.+DOT+Releases+Guidelines+to+Minimize+In-Vehicle+Distractions

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NHTSA Safety in Numbers: 660,000 US Drivers at This Very Moment Using Mobile Devices

The NHTSA just released Volume 1 of their Safety in Numbers newsletter April 2013 for Distracted Driving awareness month. Some quick stats from their survey indicate that:

  • 1 in 2 drivers answer calls while driving
  • 1 in 4 drivers place calls while driving
  • 3 in 5 young drivers answer calls while driving
  • 1 in 3 young drivers place calls while driving
  • 660,000 drivers talking on hand-held cellphones
    (5% of all American drivers at any given typical daylight moment)
  • 1.18 million drivers (9%) – were using some type of mobile device at a typical daylight moment

See NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, released in April 2013, for more information and statistics:

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811719.pdf

NHTSA Safety in Numbers newsletter:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/NHTSA+Survey+Finds+660,000+Drivers+Using+Cell+Phones+or+Manipulating+Electronic+Devices+While+Driving+At+Any+Given+Daylight+Moment

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Center For Disease Control (CDC) Update On Mobile Device Use While Driving

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is one of the pre-eminent organizations worldwide dedicated to creating the expertise, information and tools that people and communities need to protect their health.

The CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of March 15, 2013 (Vol. 62/No. 10) features an update on distracted driving with the key findings that:

  • Road traffic crashes are a global public health problem, contributing to an estimated 1.3M deaths annually
  • Mobile device use while driving has become an increasing concern
  • Within the United States, approximately 2 out of every 3 drivers admit to talking on their cell phones while driving and nearly 1/3 admit to texting or emailing while driving in the last 30 days

The CDC recommends that emerging vehicle and mobile communication technologies be studied to assess their role in reducing crashes related to distracted driving.

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Technology Helping Technology

In the March 6 Issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 309, No.9), authors Jeffrey H. Cohen, MD and Motao Zhu, MD, PhD put forth, in their article Keeping an Eye on Distracted Driving, the argument that: 

  • Fatalities associated with distracted driving due to mobile device use continue to increase
  • Education and legislation are failing to solve the problem despite concerted effort and expense

Education, alone, rarely leads to behavioural change. The authors note, "As individuals continue to use their cell phones nearly continuously throughout the day, for both business and pleasure, they will continue to be tempted to use this technology - if available - while driving."

Similarly, legislation that cannot be practically implemented by law enforcement personnel is unlikely to be a deterrent. The authors observe, "Simply banning handheld cell phone use while driving, without providing law enforcement with an easy method of detecting such use, is akin to banning drunk driving without using breathalyzers or sobriety tests to detect violators." The difficulties of detecting unlawful use and the scarcity of police resources make it unlikely that law enforcement will place a high priority on apprehending violators of legislative bans.

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The authors' central thesis is that "Cell phone use while driving is a problem that has been created by technology, and solving this problem will require technological solutions."

Authors Cohen and Zhu conclude, "Failure to act in this manner [failure to implement technology solutions] will result in the continued loss of thousands of lives each year to this preventable public safety hazard. In the era of smartphones and smart cars, it is time to be smarter about keeping them apart from one another."

At Aegis, we could not agree more and have created the industry's broadest portfolio of solutions to automatically detect when mobile devices are in a driving state and to implement policy controls which ensure the safe and legal use of such devices while driving.

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The problem of "Do as I say, not as I do".

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released its fifth annual "Traffic Safety Culture Index" this month and the messages related to distracted driving due to mobile device use are clear:

  • Nearly all drivers (95.7%) say that drivers text messaging or emailing are a very serious threat to their personal safety
  • 94.5 percent say that they personally consider it unacceptable for a driver to type a text or email while driving
  • 79.8 percent believe that most other people where they live consider it unacceptable to text while driving

However, contrasted against this near-universal belief that texting or emailing while driving is extremely dangerous:

  • More than 1 in four (26.6%) say that they have typed or sent a text message or email in the past 30 days while driving
  • More than 1 in three (34.7%) say they have read a text message or email while driving during this time

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This "do as I say, not as I do" paradigm is one of the reasons that the problem of distracted driving is difficult to solve through education and law enforcement alone. The statistics prove that, although people understand the dangers and face penalties, they continue the behaviours.

At Aegis, we share the objectives of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to value and pursue traffic safety. We are committed to helping reduce the estimated 8,000 deaths on American highways in 2011 due to mobile device use.

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