Modern technology has been the main contributor to distracted driving accidents. Cellphone use, for example, causes many of the distracted driving accidents that take thousands of lives each year. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported almost 3,200 lives lost in distracted driving accidents. Yet just as technology contributes to distracted driving, it could also be the solution. Innovations may have the power to reduce distracted driving and its related dangers.
Buying a vehicle new in 2019 almost always means it will come with some automated driving technologies. Advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking, warnings of potential forward collisions, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warnings have worked to prevent thousands of car accidents so far. High-tech safety features can automatically send a signal to drivers who appear to be dozing off or driving distracted – bringing their attention back to the driving task.
Collision prevention technologies can send audible, visual and/or tactile warnings to let drivers know they need to pay more attention to the road. If a driver drifts into a different lane, for example, the vehicle can automatically sense the lane departure, correct it to prevent a collision and send a signal to alert the driver to the danger. The signal may include text within the vehicle’s dashboard that advises the driver to pull over and take a break. The alert could be enough to tell the driver to pay more attention to the road.
Technological solutions to distracted driving may not only exist within vehicle features. Many cellphone companies, cellphone manufacturers and app developers have also come up with ways to diminish distracted driving. Most cellphones now have Do Not Disturb modes owners can set to automatically turn on when the phone detects the person is driving. Apple’s latest update, for example, has a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode that will block text messages and phone calls while the vehicle is in motion. It can also automatically send a reply that explains you are driving to the person trying to contact you. If you connect the phone to a hands-free Bluetooth system, it will allow phone calls to go through.
Parents of teens may want to go a step further by purchasing technology that could help control distracted driving. CellControl DriveID, for example, attaches to the windshield and monitors a driver’s actions. Parents can then download software onto their phones to control what actions the driver may perform on his or her phone. The device will intercept phone calls and text messages while the vehicle is moving, for example. More advanced technologies can also block other potential sources of driver distraction, such as emails and audio features.
Vehicle automation technologies are growing more advanced by the year. Many major manufacturing companies – including Tesla and Ford – have promised self-driving vehicles by 2020. Fully automated safety features by 2025 or sooner could mean vehicles that need little or no input from human drivers to get to their destinations. Fully automated vehicles will be able to perform all the essential operative functions of a car without driver input, in all driving conditions. They will be able to stop, go, turn, and safely keep within a lane. Drivers may or may not have the option to control driverless vehicles.
Completely driverless vehicles may not be on the market yet, but sophisticated technologies have already created vehicles that operate with high automation. They can perform all or most driving functions, usually with a human operator overseeing operations. Road tests are already underway for many of the first driverless vehicle models. Automated vehicle technologies may make distracted driving a thing of the past. Human error will not be a problem when technology controls how and where a vehicle drives.