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Can Cell Phone Makers Prevent Distracted Driving Injuries?

The Rise Of Distracted Driving In America

In the early 2000s, the United States had fewer traffic deaths per mile than most other countries. And, our cars have become increasingly safer over the years since then. Yet, our traffic death statistics have worsened. Why? The reason — Distracted Driving. When it comes to distracted driving, cell phones are the major factor.

In our fast-paced world, drivers face many distractions. As I explained in a prior post, distractions typically involve three main categories. They are:

  • Manual Distractions
  • Visual Distractions
  • Cognitive Distractions

We provide more information about these classifications on our firm website. Many distractions fall within one category or the other. What makes cell phones especially dangerous? Cell phones (and Texting) can distract the user in all three categories at the same time. That’s why much of the focus in distracted driving prevention involves texting. In addition to involving all three categories at the same time, texting is a major form of communication among younger drivers. When driving 55 miles per hour, a texting driver can easily travel a distance longer than a football field without paying attention to the roadway.

Can cell phone makers help prevent texting and driving? Can available technology reduce deadly distracted driving? These are important questions. The answer to both, is yes.

The Technology That Might Reduce Cellphone Distractions

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed new guidelines affecting the use of cell phones in cars. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx:

These commonsense guidelines, grounded in the best research available, will help designers of mobile devices build products that cut down on distraction on the road.

Unfortunately, the guidelines are currently voluntary. As a result, they really amount to nothing more than advice. So, what are the voluntary guidelines? According to the NHTSA website, they are:

The guidelines encourage manufacturers to implement features such as pairing, where a portable device is linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as Driver Mode, which is a simplified user interface. Both pairing and Driver Mode will reduce the potential for unsafe driver distraction by limiting the time a driver’s eyes are off the road, while at the same time preserving the full functionality of these devices when they are used at other times.

First, the guideline encourages “pairing” technology. Some automakers are already working with this technology. This technology can pair smartphones to car touch screens and also allow limited use of the phone apps. The technology is helpful in that it keeps drivers from looking down at their small cellphone screens. And, it limits the uses of the phones while driving. This is good technology that can prevent lengthy distractions from the roadway.

Second, the guideline encourages a “Driver Mode.” This is a mode, similar to airplane mode, that the cellphone user manually activates. While it is helpful to manually change the phone’s mode to avoid potential distractions, I have my doubts that the mode would be widely utilized. And, I especially doubt young drivers would use the manual anti-distraction mode each time they get behind the wheel to drive. And I would ask — Isn’t this already available through the standard airplane mode function?

The Effort To Help Clients Hurt By Distracted Drivers

We frequently help people injured in car accidents where distracted driving was a factor. And, cellphones are the most common cause of distraction in our cases. In just the last year, we’ve helped several clients hurt by other drivers who were using a cellphone to text or search for songs to play. We’ve also helped a client hurt by another driver physically searching for his cellphone in the vehicle while driving down a busy roadway.

Distracted driving is a primary factor for many highway injuries in Alabama. The Blackwell Law Firm is committed to two things. First, we are committed to helping each client hurt by a distracted driver. Second, we are committed to educating drivers and advocating for safer highways. If we can help, give us a call. Our consultations are always free and confidential.