Cogosense Blog

Cogosense's Driver Behaviour Blog

New Study Finds Half of Distracted Drivers are Texting

A recent press release from the University of Washington finds that 8% of drivers on Washington state roadways were using electronic devices while driving and that half of those were texting.

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The full study is expected to be published in October but joins a growing list of state initiatives to understand the problem of distracted driving and to take action to prevent distracted driving. The State of Iowa issued a comprehensive RFP in September 2013 to evaluate technology solutions aimed at young drivers within the state.

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Expanded Considerations for Risk and Liability

The recent New Jersey state appeals court ruling expanded the risk and liability considerations to include someone who knowingly sends a text to another person who's engaged in driving at the time and the distraction leads to a collision.

We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted.
– Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division

This is a particularly important consideration for corporate fleets where intra-company communication may be very frequent between fleet drivers and management or dispatch.

Complete solutions for distracted driving should take into consideration the environment for both the senders and the receivers.

For example, Aegis has worked with our corporate clients to provide driving status indicators on enterprise unified communications systems (such as those provided by Cisco, Avaya or Microsoft) so that corporate dispatchers can see status at-a-glance. Additionally, single touch push-to-talk and similar features are available to facilitate communication that is critical to productivity while ensuring conformance with corporate safe driving policy and adherence to the law.

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Safety Versus Freedom

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Nathan Seppa, of Science News, authored an excellent article last week entitled "Impactful Distraction - Talking while driving poses dangers that people seem unable to see."

The article touches upon many of the important issues in the distracted driving market including:

  • Competing interests between (a) science which has clearly established the dangers of distracted driving, (b) individual freedom which resists the government imposing regulations and (c) legislation which attempts to balance the interests of safety and freedom
  • Psychology that individuals believe distracted driving to be very dangerous for others but safe for themselves
  • Dangers of handsfree usage and the absence of legislation dealing with such dangers

There are several excellent infographics included in the article including the one shown below related to tunnel vision (or distractions which draw attention away from the routines that would provide a good representation of the driving environment) and "inattentional blindness" (or looking at something and not seeing it because the mind is elsewhere).

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Download PDF

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From One Second To The Next

Previously, I've written that "Learning Occurs Through Recognition Of Error" and we've authored numerous blog posts that deal with the challenges related to this precept when it comes to distracted driving.

For some people, numbers and analytic reasoning are compelling enough to force change. See the preceding blog post "2003-2013 By The Numbers".

For others, change is driven by an emotional reaction to crisis. Our friends at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have sponsored the creation of the documentary "From One Second To The Next" so that more people might effect change in their lives before facing their own personal tragedy related to distracted driving.

It is well worth taking thirty minutes to watch this compelling documentary.

http://youtu.be/_BqFkRwdFZ0

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How Will Handset Companies React to Alexander Heit's Fatal Text Message?

How Will Handset Companies React to Alexander Heit's Fatal Text Message?

I noticed another distracted driving tragedy in the news recently. University of Northern Colorado student Alexander Heit crashed his car as a result of being distracted by texting while driving and died of his injuries soon after. 

Included in the article was a photo of his iPhone displaying the last words he typed. His parents wanted the image shared as a reminder to others of the dangers of texting while driving.

The photo is an unfortunate association for Apple. While it could have easily been any phone, it made me wonder about how such an association might impact a company’s brand and how the handset companies will react.

Given increasing public awareness of the problem of distracted driving, I believe the first handset company to openly embrace the distracted driving issue and provide solutions as part of their operating system would elicit a positive reaction from consumers, particularly the parents of young drivers.

Imagine, for example, that as part of the set-up procedure for a new smartphone, the consumer is informed of the dangers of using that handset while driving and is offered the opportunity to enable a safe driving feature that automatically silences and disables the phone when driving.

Granted, some handset companies are taking steps to reduce distraction -- for example Siri Eyes Free and Motorola Smart Actions -- but I predict that we’ll see the major handset brands paying more and more attention to the issue of distracted driving to protect both their brand and their bottom line.

Story: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/final-text-crash-cuts-off-sentence/story-fnd134gw-1226618691883

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