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Distracted Drivers: Cell Phone Use While Driving Is a Major Cause of Accidents

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TextingDistracted driving can be a killer. Distracted drivers are responsible for an ever growing percentage of auto accidents, and all you have to do is look around while on the road to see them — putting on makeup, eating, using smart phones.

With the spread of cell phone usage, in particular, the problem of distracted driving will continue to escalate. Some are trying to fight back. Michael Noyes, a reporter for the Montana Watchdog, brings us news of a bill coming before the Montana legislature that would ban cell phones and texting while at the wheel:

Bill sponsor Sen. Christine Kaufmann, D-Helena, said 37 states currently ban texting. She said surveys show a larger percentage of people agree that texting and talking on cell phones should be banned.

‘The goal of this bill is public safety,’ Kaufmann told members of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee. ‘Your constituents will like this bill.’ Supporters of the bill said a statewide approach is needed to create safer conditions for motorists.

Representatives from several organizations including the Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Tow Truck Association, the Montana Police Protective Association, and Verizon Wireless spoke in favor of Senate Bill 251. One person testified in opposition to the bill.

In Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse White initiated, and Governor Pat Quinn signed, House Bill 71 a little over a year ago. The bill made texting while driving illegal. Unfortunately, recent surveys indicate that up to 40% of the drivers on Illinois Tollways are unaware of the law. In response, the state has launched the “Drive Now, Text Later” campaign to make people aware of the legalities.

The campaign was announced in Chicago Tribune in a letter signed by Jesse White (Illinois Secretary of State), Gary Hannig (secretary, Illinois Department of Transportation), Kristi Lafleur (executive director, Illinois Tollway), Jonathon Monken (acting director, Illinois State Police), and Brad Roeber (regional president, AAA Chicago).

Among other things, the letter quotes some of the disturbing statistics that are compelling more states to take action:

In the first half of 2010, cell phone distractions, including texting, were the primary or secondary cause of more than 500 vehicle crashes across Illinois. In 2009, cell phone distractions were the primary or secondary cause of nearly 1,300 vehicle crashes [–] an increase of more than 9 percent over 2008.

Nationally, nearly 5,500 people died in 2009 in distracted driving-related crashes and nearly half a million people were injured. Distraction-related fatalities represented 16 percent of overall traffic fatalities for both 2008 and 2009. This problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

Since gadgets seem to be the primary offender when it comes to distraction, it is only fitting that we are starting to see apps that address this rampant problem. T-Mobile has just debuted an app that acts as an add-on to parental controls that the company already offers. Nina Sparano of Denver’s KDVR gives us the details:

T-Mobile has teemed up with Location Labs to introduce Drive Smart Plus, a smartphone application aimed at making it easier to stop texting while driving. When your teen starts driving the app uses GPS technology to detect that the car is in motion.

With Drive Smart all incoming texts are silenced and calls are sent directly to voice mail.

Parents can enable the app from any browser once they have purchased it. Additionally, the driver does have the capability of overriding the app in order to make an emergency call. To prevent casual use of the override, the system automatically sends a text or email to the parents every time it is used. The app is available by subscription ($4.99 a month).

Image by larry zou@, used under its Creative Commons license.

 

2 Responses to “Distracted Drivers: Cell Phone Use While Driving Is a Major Cause of Accidents”

  • Cygel White says:

    Introduction: With 4.1 billion text messages sent per day globally and the act of text messaging having become our number one means of communication, text messaging has become as much a burden on life as it has become a convenience. Text messaging and talking on the phone (now referred to as distracted driving) behind the wheel is a dangerous enough behavior that its prevalence has encouraged our federal government to make it an illegal activity for any federal employee and any short or long haul truck driver. More than 30 states have also recognized the threat that texting or talking on the phone while driving poses for our society, and accordingly have created laws against its practice. As reported by the US DOT and the International Institute for Highway Safety, the number of lives report lost last year due to distracted driving was nearly 10,000 in the United States, alone. In an effort to alleviate threat of serious injuries and death caused by distracted driving, California-based Iconosys, Inc. has developed DriveReply™.
    27665 Forbes Rd #103 • Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 • (949) 335-5350 Office • (949) 266-5597 Fax • http://www.iconosys.com Copyright 2011, Iconosys, Inc.
    Features:
    • Safely monitor the a Smartphone’s incoming calls and text messages while the vehicle is traveling at a rate of speed at or greater than 10-15MPH
    • Provide customization in auto-reply messages for inbound calls and inbound text messages while the vehicle is in motion
    • Provide personalized responses, so that a recipient would be identified by name in automated replies received
    • Provide a No-Reply List (blacklist)for individuals that will not receive automated replies from the app user
    • Provide a My Drive 5™ List (whitelist) for important individuals that user designates must get through with phone calls or text messages (to the user) in the event of a possible emergency
    • Provide a passenger selection option, should the user be a passenger, rather than a driver, and desire to disable the auto-reply function of the app
    • Provide a Battery Alert System to notify a driver that their battery is running low, so that the driver can safely pull over to plug the phone in to a charging system and maintain theDriveReply™ service
    • DriveReply™ is available in English and Spanish language versions
    27665 Forbes Rd #103 • Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 • (949) 335-5350 Office • (949) 266-5597 Fax • http://www.iconosys.com Copyright 2011, Iconosys, Inc.
    Significance: DriveReply™ is currently available on Android OS and limited Windows Mobile devices and is supported via affiliation or membership with such public service oriented groups as the National Organization for Youth Safety, Kids Are 1st, National Institute for Highway Safety, and Distraction.gov. DriveReply™ is regularly featured on local and national media and is often referred to as the most user friendly and convenient method to prevent distracted driving. The founders of Iconosys have also created the cross-country, support group known as Text Kills in support of their mission to curb distracted driving.
    27665 Forbes Rd #103 • Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 • (949) 335-5350 Office • (949) 266-5597 Fax • http://www.iconosys.com Copyright 2011, Iconosys, Inc.
    Media: Iconosys, Inc.believes that it and its flagship product, DriveReply™, have been reviewed, appreciated, and covered by more media outlets and news sources than any other driver safety / driver attendant software developer or related product in the world; this extensive exposure includes multiple times being mentioned or profiled in the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Good Morning America, CNN, The Today Show, and other TV/Radio shows and stations across North America.
    27665 Forbes Rd #103 • Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 • (949) 335-5350 Office • (949) 266-5597 Fax • http://www.iconosys.com Copyright 2011, Iconosys, Inc.
    Future: Iconosys, Inc. continues to enhance and optimize DriveReply™ and the app’s related technology, including making available specialized versions of DriveReply™ for newer, and previously unaddressed or overlooked, markets. The company plans to launch DriveReply Teen™ in April 2011, as well as the anticipated launch of DriveReply Fleet™ at the USDOT Distracted Driving Summit in Washington, DC in September 2011.

  • […] Distracted Drivers: Cell Phone Use While Driving is a Major Cause of Accidents — Why do I keep pointing out cell phones and other mobile devices as a problem on the roads? Because the numbers support that assertion. […]

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