Articles Tagged with distracted driving

Recently, The Charlotte Observer reported an 80-year-old driver blew through a stop sign and crashed into a marked police cruiser in New Jersey. Ironically, the patrolman in that vehicle had been assigned to enforce the state’s “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” campaign aimed at curbing distracted driving. iphone

The driver was reportedly distracted by his cell phone navigation feature at the time of the crash. He failed to see the stop sign and breezed right through it, suddenly slamming into the police officer, who suffered a hand injury.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the National Safety Council recently conducted a survey showing 47 percent say they are “comfortable” texting while driving. Meanwhile, The Charlotte Observer reports pedestrian deaths in North Carolina have risen to the highest they have been in 40 years – a trend police attribute to higher rates of driver distraction. And a new report by CNN Money reveals distracted drivers are resulting in higher than ever insurance rate hikes. In fact, as The Charlotte Observer reports, the state Department of Insurance in North Carolina reported there will be an average 13.8 percent increase in auto insurance rates. If approved, those rates would go up Oct. 1st. Drivers “addicted to smartphones” are cited by the insurance industry as a top reason why insurance rates must go up.  Continue reading

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 10 percent of all car crashes are caused by distracted driving. Approximately one in six crashes are caused by either distracted or drowsy driving. These driver errors are responsible for thousands of deaths annually, including hundreds on North Carolina and South Carolina roads. eye

Unfortunately, until every vehicle on the road is fully autonomous, we probably aren’t going to completely escape this problem. Competition from driver attention is everywhere – from smartphones to kids in the back seat to increasingly interactive dashboards. There is a lot of talk of beefing up anti-texting laws or ramping up enforcement, but the reality is these types of laws are difficult to widely enforce on a regular basis. Based on a National Safety Council survey, 55 percent of Americans concede to “occasionally” making a phone call while driving, and 32 percent said if there was no law against it, they would probably text and drive. (The reality is many of those still do, regardless of the law.)

Still, there is hope that technology might be helpful in curbing this serious problem after all – and perhaps sooner than anticipated. A new system has been introduced that uses embedded computer vision to determine when a driver is either drowsy or distracted. Using an infrared camera, the system follows the driver’s eyes, while the computer vision detects the driver’s state and conducts a real-time analysis.

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Almost every state in the country has some form of distracted driving law on the books. In North Carolina, we have primary laws that ban all cell phone use for bus drivers and novice drivers (those under 18), as well as a prohibition on texting for drivers of all ages. South Carolina bans texting for drivers of all ages. In total, 46 states plus the District of Columbia ban texting by drivers. However, only 14 states ban the use of any mobile device while operating a vehicle. broken phone

Every year, thousands of people continue to die in distracted driving car accidents nationwide. In 2015, the last year for which federal data is available, it was 3,400 lives lost. That figure is likely lower than reality because distraction is not as easy to measure as, say, alcohol impairment. The latest statistics show that in the last year, traffic deaths have occurred at a rate faster than at any point in the last 50 years.

Now, California is taking a hard line on the issue. The New York Times reported that effective January 1st, the state no longer allows drivers to hold any type of mobile device while operating a vehicle. The measure builds on an earlier statute that banned both talking and texting but failed to outlaw the use of apps like Facebook and Twitter or streaming video. The laws that exist were mostly written before the age of the smartphone. That’s why they don’t specifically reference the kinds of features that now compete for the attention of motorists who should be focusing on the road. Interactive features now are standard on these mobile devices, and there are many from which to choose. If states want to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to distracted driving, they are going to have to update their laws with modern technology in mind.

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