A technology push is necessary in order to overcome the increasing amount of distracted driving taking place on the road.
With the increased prevalence of technology, with its ever-present hold on our attention, driving, already dangerous for a myriad of reasons, has become a significantly riskier activity. For instance, according to the personal injury attorneys of Brunkenhoefer, P.C., last year there was a 3.59 percent increase over 2015 for deaths related to distracted driving. That amounts to one death every two hours and 20 minutes.
In Texas, there were 14,202 serious crashes with over 17,000 injuries.
These statistics prove that driving isn’t just dangerous, it’s becoming more dangerous every day.
The solution may not be obvious, however, and should be highlighted here.
The first part of the solution is a greater push for cheap, easily available technology that will encourage people to put their phones down.
While hands-free technology exists, it is not that prevalent at this time. Most car drivers do not use the technology. A greater push for this would help reduce crashes. For instance, free handsfree sets could be given out at local DMV/BMV locations when regular activities like renewing licenses took place.
Another change could be more focus on handsfree software within the phone. While Siri has her charms, as the program becomes more intuitive and responsive, more people will take advantage while driving. A program that effective reads and writes texts and emails, for example, would be a great assistance and might encourage more drivers to switch from playing with their phones to speaking to them.
The second part of the solution also involves technology to some extent. There needs to be stricter enforcement of distracted driving laws. If someone is caught with a phone out, all fines and punishments should be automatically doubled. One way to catch people would be to use the phones themselves. A program should be automatically installed on all phones that can be accessed by police to prove if the driver was using the phone at a particular moment within, say, the last 48 hours.
Such a program would allow police to definitively prove whether a person was focused on driving or not, and once that was possible, drivers would be far less willing to risk losing focus.
The third and final part of the solution is simply to increase driver education about distracted driving. While many lose focus over finding the right song or reading an important text, most aren’t doing so thinking they are being unsafe. They simply aren’t thinking at all. A series of commercials or mail-out pamphlets might help educate the general driving populace about the very real danger of driving with a phone in their hands.
The smartphone has done a great deal to improve modern life. It is almost unthinkable to go about life without one now. But as smartphones become so prominent, more responsibility needs to be taken for their misuse. That means we should be focused on teaching people how dangerous using their phones can be when driving and punishing those who do it anyway.