Smartphone Technology And Distracted Driving
Distracted driving has become a serious problem in today’s modern technical age. Essentially, the invention of the smartphone has placed a powerful and full working computer at users’ hip which many find increasingly difficult to ignore while doing other tasks, such as driving a vehicle on the road. The families of some victims of distracted driving have begun focusing their blame on smartphone manufacturers for making these devices to simple to use while behind the wheel of a car. Reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, these victims’ families have accused smartphone manufacturers like apple for failing to provide “technology that could prevent crashes caused by distracted drivers”, such as automatic shut-offs for those who are behind the wheel.
Apple in particular has struck back at the accusers, saying that these accidents were caused by driver misuse, and not a technical defect found in their smartphone devices. The company also pointed to a wide variety of different widely experienced distractions unrelated to smartphone use like eating while driving or applying makeup, and how distractions aren’t exclusively smartphone-related, and how these do not make smartphone manufacturers responsible for distracted driving incidents as a whole. A judge ruled to dismiss the case against Apple, agreeing that the smartphone manufacturer is not responsible for the technology being used by drivers while behind the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recognizes the serious issue that distracted driving has become particularly since the invention and wide distribution of smartphone technology. They support the creation and use of manual programs that determine whether or not a person is a driver or a passenger, and can turn off features of a phone to help avoid cases of distracted driving. As of now, no reliable automatic technology exists for smartphones that can determine whether a person is a driver or passenger, and therefore shut down certain phone features in order to protect from the urge to use the phone while driving a vehicle.
Distracted Driving Statistics
Distracted driving is responsible for an increasing number of automobile accidents each year, many of which involve fatalities or serious injury. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that nearly 3,500 people died in distracted driver related accidents in the year 2015 alone, and this number is likely to climb as smartphone technology becomes even more common and features more advanced. A Zendrive Study also found that for every hour of driving, drivers averaged about 3 and a half minutes on their phone for any variety of reasons.
The National Safety Council has found that, in terms of accidents of any kind, about 1.6 million crashes occur as a direct result of distracted driving each year related to cell phone use. Out of these, around 330,000 of these accidents will cause injuries, around 3,500 will be fatal, and texting is the most dangerous activity one can do while also operating a motor vehicle on the road. Answering the average text message while driving takes around 5 seconds to do, and if the driver is driving at a speed of 55mph, this takes their eye off the road for the length of an entire football field, putting into perspective just how dangerous the act of distracted driving can be.
The responsibility to avoid distracted driving today depends solely on the driver to avoid cell phone use while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, and smartphone manufacturers cannot be held responsible at this time. Until new technology is developed to allow smartphones to determine if a person is currently in the drivers’ seat, the passengers’ seat, or riding on public transit, it is the job of the driver to avoid this temptation and create safer roadways.