Cell Phone Technology Changing to Save Lives
August 10, 2017
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 people die each day in car accidents as a result of being distracted. In order to inhibit distractions for drivers, both iPhone and Android have come up with updates and applications that are meant to save people’s lives by stopping them from using their phones behind the wheel.
Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged with other activities, such as texting, talking on the phone, watching videos, changing navigation settings, looking at pictures or eating. The CDC reports that there are three main types of distracted driving: cognitive, visual and manual. Cognitive distractions account for anytime that a driver takes their mind off the task of driving and paying attention to his or her surroundings. Visual distraction is when the driver takes his or her eyes off the road, and manual distraction is when a driver takes his or her hands off the wheel.
Texting is dangerous while driving. It combines cognitive, manual and visual distractions all at once. Car and Driver magazine conducted a study, which showed that a person’s reaction time is equally or more compromised when they text as it is when they drink. Although texting while driving may rank as the most dangerous behind-the-wheel activity, all forms of distraction can result in catastrophic damages.
For iPhone users, the upcoming iOS 11 system update will have a new feature that asks drivers to activate a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode. This mode does not allow notifications to appear. For drivers who do not want to turn the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature on so that they can continue to use their phones and put themselves and others on the road at risk, the WiFi and GPS systems will recognize that the phone is in a moving vehicle and go into the mode automatically. Passengers in moving vehicles will be able to unlock their phones and use them.
For Android users, this feature is the “Drivemode: Driving Interface” application. The app is available through the Verizon Message center and AT&T. Similarly to the iPhone system update, the application mutes all incoming notifications and sends calls directly to voicemail. If the driver receives a text, the app sends an automated busy-while-driving response. Drivemode also allows users to select music and control navigation hands-free.
According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), which monitors teen drivers, drivers under the age of 20 are more susceptible to distraction than older drivers are. The YRBSS also found that drivers under 20-years-old are more likely to drink and drive, get into a car with a driver who was drinking and are less likely to wear seatbelts. This is not to say that it is only teens that are using their phones; 27% of surveyed adults said they sent or received text messages while driving.
The CDC estimates that every day, 1,000 people are injured in car accidents as a result of distracted driving. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 2016 had the highest amount of distracted driving-related fatal car crashes out of the last nine years, with as many as 40,000 fatalities. To fight against the impact of distracted driving, many states have enacted laws that make texting on cell phones while driving illegal.
For iPhone users, the system update will automatically take hold and help prohibit phone use while driving. For Android users, however, downloading driving safety applications is currently voluntary. It is important that drivers understand the risk that they put themselves and others in by using their phones when behind the wheel. National educational campaigns aim to increase overall driver awareness and can be helpful in limiting accidents.
iPhone and Android are doing what they can to decrease the amount of distracted driving-related accidents. Understanding the full spectrum of risks can help stop drivers from picking up their phones when they are behind the wheel. The NHTSA reports that if a driver reads of writes a text, a crash is up to 23 times more likely.
Distracted driving is a national epidemic that claims far too many lives. The NSC is calling on each state to make the use of cell phones illegal, even if they are being used hands-free. The deadly dangers that driving while distracted creates are 100% preventable. Hopefully, the upcoming iPhone system update and free mobile application for Android users will help reduce the amount of distracted-driving related car crashes, along with drivers who commit to safely operating their vehicles.
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