Automobile Technology – Safety or Sales?

0017959_dont-text-and-drive-stickersThe dangers of driving are bad enough these days without drivers using cell phones to make calls or send texts, and what do the automobile manufactures incorporate in vehicles now?  Wi-fi!  As if bluetooth capability wasn’t enough to distract drivers.  And for those that don’t have bluetooth equipped vehicles, buy a damned bluetooth headset, for handsfree calls while driving.  They’re not that expensive.  Check out Groupon or other retail site, invest about $20 to $30 dollars, and keep your hands on the wheel instead.  If your calls are that important, either stay home or the office and make your calls or pull into a parking lot and stop your car.  I definitely don’t understand the necessity of wi-fi in a car.  If your business is that important it should be done from behind a desk or home, not while on the road.  And a driver surely doesn’t need to be watching movies while traveling.  Now, automobile manufacturers are using one-touch texting as a selling point of their vehicles.  So what if you can push a button on your steering wheel to return a text, it’s texting while driving to my way of thinking, and you still have to take your eyes off the road and onto the screen, in the middle of the dash, to make sure your sending the correct response.  Let’s face it, the auto manufacturers are aiding drivers in breaking state laws pertaining to the use of cell phones in automobiles.

Automobiles and cell phones shouldn’t go together!  It creates another hazard to add to the many others while on the highway.  Drivers have more than enough to occupy their time.  Watching the road ahead for debris, pot holes, straying children or animals, road construction, traffic signs and signals, poor road conditions due to weather, stopped or broken down vehicles, and of course watching for that distracted driver of another vehicle.  Why should there be a need for technology like cell phone use, texting, or wi-fi in anyone’s car?

In most states, the use of cell phone, hands-free or not, is illegal and subject to fines or other actions.  In researching, I’ve found most states incorporate the following basic laws:

Handheld ban for drivers age 18-20 years old (Primary law)
Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary law)
Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Secondary law)
Ban on texting for all drivers (Primary law)

I don’t believe these to be stringent enough.  Handheld ban should be on all drivers regardless of age.  It’s not just the 18 – 20 year old utilizing cell phones while driving. To my disbelief, I can not believe Pennsylvania doesn’t have one law pertaining to cell phone use in a vehicle.  For as many campaign ads I’ve seen, and for as many groups and associations against texting and driving in this state, I’m very shocked.

Here’s a few facts:

FACT #1
Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field.

FACT #2
Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.

FACT #3
11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted. (2012, NHTSA)

FACT #4
49% of drivers with cell phones under the age of 35 send or read text messages while driving. (2011, Harris Poll)

FACT #5
60% of drivers use cell phones while driving. (2011, Harris Poll)

FACT #6
57% of drivers rate themselves as better than the average driver. (2011, Harris Poll)

FACT #7
42% of young adult drivers are very/somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving. (2012, Ad Council)

FACT #8
68% of teens and young adults disagreed that it is easy to text while driving and still pay attention to the road. (2012, Ad Council)

FACT #9
80% of teens and young adults indicated concern about the issue of texting while driving. (2012, Ad Council)

FACT #10
49% of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver was sending or reading text messages on their cell phone. (2010, Pew Research Center)

FACT #11
44% of adults say they have been passengers of drivers who used the cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger. (2010, Pew Research Center)

FACT #12
36% of teens say they have been involved in a near-crash because of their own or someone else’s distracted driving. (2010, Pew Research Center)

FACT #13
78% of teens and young adults say they have read an SMS message while driving. (2012, Ad Council)

FACT #14
71% of teens and young people say they have composed/sent SMS messages while driving. (2012, Ad Council)

FACT #15
As of December 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the US every month. (CTIA)

FACT #16
In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3267 in 2010. An additional 387000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010. (NHTSA)

FACT #17
You’re 3x more likely to crash if you text while driving.

Facts don’t lie people and some of those percentages are really scary.  This is the danger of advanced technology.  But, there are technology features of most cell phones that can help.  Auto messaging – sends a message back to anyone calling or texting you stating your driving and cannot respond, or you can create your own message to be automatically sent.  Ringer shut off – stops incoming calls and text alerts.  Privacy settings – enables incoming calls and text alerts from ringing during a period of time.  Check your phones manual to find out them.  Of course, these take manual manipulation and the self discipline of the cell phone user.

As connected as we are these days, why is it that nothing, other than conversations, has been sped up?  Anyone you call for business is never at their desk, you never get a return call, orders for purchases take just as long as before to process, your told their computer is down at the moment or you never placed an order because of computer problems.  So what is the good of technology, especially in vehicles?  Years ago I had to look for a phone booth or wait until I got home to make a call.  There never seemed to be any one bitching because of the time it took to call back.  No one got pissed because you didn’t get a text message returned within 2 minutes.  Yet, the same amount of work and productivity occurred, and the level of customer service was much better, but that’s a topic for another blog.

No phone call or text is that important to warrant risking an accident or causing a death, either yours or someone else.

So what’s your opinion about driver cell phone use?  Should auto manufacturers be limited or allowed to enable drivers to break cell phone use laws, or should vehicles be equipped to block cell phone use while the engine is operating?

Seniam Nevets

The Seniam Report is an Opinion and Discussion blog posting a new topic each Monday.  Please take the time to voice your Opinions and Comments.  Follow The Seniam Report and receive the weekly topic in your email.  Thank you.


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