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Can Technology Reduce Distracted Driving?

Posted on July 11, 2018

The distractions and dangers of technology in the automotive industry gets plenty of press, but what about all the ways in which digital technologies are making the roads safer? The right tech at the right time can improve driving and reduce the risk of collisions. Technology could even reduce distracted driving, a persistent problem that took almost 3,500 lives in 2016. Using technology to prevent driver distraction is a careful balance, but one the following pieces of equipment may be able to achieve.

Lane-Keeping Assist and Lane Departure Warnings

Drifting into other lanes is one of the most common telltale signs of a distracted driver. Thanks to modern technologies, vehicles can now notify a driver through audible alerts when he or she is drifting into another lane. Lane-keeping systems can create visual, audible, or tactile warnings to alert a driver when the vehicle departs a lane without the vehicle’s turn signal being in use. They can also brake or gradually steer a vehicle that starts to depart a lane. These technologies could help prevent distracted driving by warning drivers when they aren’t paying enough attention to the road.

Automatic Emergency Braking

Distracted drivers often cause rear-end collisions, since they’re not paying enough attention to the road or vehicle in front of them. Automatic emergency braking systems, or AEB, work by detecting potential hazards at the front of the vehicle. AEB stops the car in time to avoid colliding with the object or person, using advanced sensors and brake support technologies.

Current AEB systems in vehicles offer crash-imminent braking and dynamic brake support. Crash-imminent braking does not prevent a collision, but it slows the car to reduce the crash’s severity. Dynamic brake support brakes harder if the driver doesn’t apply enough pressure to stop in time. AEB can help prevent or mitigate collisions if a distracted driver doesn’t react in time.

Cell Phone Technologies and Apps

Automotive isn’t the only industry striving to reduce distracted driving through advanced technologies. Cell phone and tech companies are also coming up with innovative solutions, such as the latest iOS 11 update that comes with a Do Not Disturb (DND) While Driving mode. Users can switch this mode on to block incoming communications when the iPhone senses the user is driving. The DND feature will automatically send a text telling the other person that the user they are trying to contact is driving. Other examples include:

  • AT&T DriveMode. This is a free app users can download to block text message alerts when it detects that the vehicle has reached 15 miles per hour. Parents can use this app to lock teen drivers’ phones, as the app will alert them if the teen turns it off.
  • ly. This is another app users can download to help prevent distracted driving. It helps drivers keep their eyes on the road while still enabling them to check messages by reading texts and emails aloud. Drivers can hear messages without touching or looking at their phones.
  • Live2Txt. An Android-based app that will block text messages and phone calls when the user turns it on. Users can also set it up to automatically reply to texts with an “I’m Driving” message, like similar apps. This app costs $1.99 to download.

Downloading special apps and systems onto cell phones can significantly reduce the risk of driver distraction. Cell phones are the most dangerous form of driver distraction, as they require use of the driver’s eyes, hands, and attention. Glancing at a cell phone to read or type a text message for just five seconds is the equivalent of driving across a football field at 55 miles per hour with your eyes closed, according to the NHTSA. Text-blocking apps can help a driver focus all of his/her attention on the roadway.

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