Traffic accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving continue to increase every year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Distracted driving is a catch-all term for activities which divert the driver’s attention from the roadway and can include a wide range of activities from changing the vehicle’s music to eating. The most notorious culprit – and the primary cause of the country’s increased accidents – however, is texting while driving. In a report by The New York Daily News, 71 percent of Americans admit to using their smartphone while driving.
According to the NHTSA, the risk of a car crash doubles whenever a driver takes his eyes off the road for just two seconds. With the proliferation of smartphones, drivers no longer stop at texting while driving. In a report by News 12, a full eight percent of drivers admit to watching videos on YouTube while driving. Perhaps even more worrisome, distracted driving is no longer a dangerous activity just for young drivers – 73 percent of parents admit to using their smartphone while their child is in the car. These drivers also appear well aware of the risks, with 55 percent describing distracted driving as the top safety threat on the road. Only one-third said drunk driving constituted their biggest safety concern on America’s roadways.
Seeming to accept the failure of hands-free laws and public safety campaigns, The New York Times reports that car manufacturers are now attempting to curb America’s deadly addiction to their smartphones Automakers are now equipping vehicles with advanced technology, such as head-up displays which project turn-by-turn directions, speed limits, and other information onto the vehicle’s windshield. Perhaps even more importantly, new automobiles increasingly come equipped with advanced safety features that can stop a vehicle from drifting outside of its lane or automatically slam on the brakes upon sensing an impending collision. Even the smartphone operating systems are now commonly integrated into the vehicle’s display – allowing drivers to access rudimentary controls and engage with the voice-recognition software used in the Android and iOS operating systems.
According to The New York Times, these technologies are preventing accidents and saving lives. Vehicles with automatic braking are 50 percent less likely to become involved in a rear-end crash. Further, automobiles capable of keeping the car inside of its lane reduce accidents by 33 percent. With distracted driving only becoming a more serious problem across the country, these welcome advancements in technology may be able to dull the costs of distracted drivers until Americans come to their senses.
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