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Will DOT 'Distracted Driver Blueprint' Solve the Problem?

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przemek
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Re: Will DOT 'Distracted Driver Blueprint' Solve the Problem?
przemek   4/2/2013 3:23:20 PM
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Compliance is the hallmark of a good law, but it's surprisingly difficult to achieve. When people understand and approve with the goals of a regulation, they follow it simply out of self-interest. Conversely, people tend to comply with the system of regulations that is functioning, broad and perceived as fair. This is the problem with gun laws: they are full of holes and exceptions: background checks not required for gun shows; lack of enforcement against straw purchases; lack of accountability for lost guns (over half a million guns are stolen every year, but there's no effective reporting system, see. e.g. mayorsagainstillegalguns.org). The border enforcement is similarly holey, as we all know.
Laws against distracted driving are similarly not enforced---many jurisdictions don't even have it as primary offense. I would be in favor of a system that would turn on the vehicle emergency flashing lights whenever the phone is used in certain way, e.g. the SMS mode is active, or data is being sent to and from the phone :)

Manning
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Iron
Moral Responsibility?
Manning   7/12/2012 6:29:10 AM
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The previous messages on this topic have clearly focussed on the issue of laws (advisability or inadvisability) to control distracted driving.

But let me restate the issue as I see it (from my 7-2-12 post, with some added emphasis):

It seems that nobody has addressed the one issue that is properly ours to address: should WE be DESIGNING built-in distractions in cars?

There are other responsible parties besides drivers and the government - US.

For example, a number of respondents have cited the prevalence of touchscreens in new cars and correctly pointed out that they present distractions to drivers.  But nobody has mentioned that they didn't grow into those dashboards by themselves - THEY WERE DESIGNED BY ENGINEERS JUST LIKE US!

We must start to say no to the MBAs and marketeers who insist that the only way we can sell and differentiate our particular brand of car is to ratchet up the infotainment war.  [Personal note: as a design engineer I had done just that, and I earned respect and a normal retirement decades later.]

[I believe that] It is time to say "NO, I won't be a party to that nonsense, as it is likely that it will conribute to pain and suffering."

We have met the enemy and they is us.

Let's have some discussion about OUR responsibilies, shall we?

 

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Who are the commentators, anyway?
Charles Murray   7/6/2012 6:44:50 PM
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I respect your opinion, Manning. I want to make it clear, though, that I understand that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is against distracted driving, and has done a great deal to combat it. I've written about this many times. What I did say, perhaps poorly, is that when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) asked states to ban cellphones while driving last December, LaHood (NHTSA answers to him) publicly said he wouldn't back the proposal. LaHood's position is that hands-free cell phone usage is not the problem. See below.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204464404577112803206637964.html

http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1395&doc_id=237328

 

warren@fourward.com
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Will DOT 'Distracted Driver Blueprint' Solve the Problem?
warren@fourward.com   7/5/2012 6:48:21 PM
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I know it is a ripe field for politicians to further integrate themselves into our lives, but we are distracted every time we look at the gauges on the dashboard, turn our heads to check our blind spot, adjust the radio/heater/AC/defroster, focus on the windshield instead of at a distance, etc. 

The bottom line is, if you are distracted, no matter the cause, then you are placing yourself and others in danger.  And you will be held accountable under the law.  That should be enough.

We don't need big brother more involved in our everyday affairs.  There are laws enough, just like with handguns and the borders.  Just enforce what is there and leave the rest up to the individual.

bobjengr
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Platinum
DISTRICTED DRIVERS
bobjengr   7/5/2012 12:38:07 PM
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 Charles,

I think we all have had "close calls" relative to distracted drivers.  I was rear-ended by a lady on a cell phone several months ago.  Fortunately, we were moving towards a stop sign and going very slowly but she did hit me.  Not much damage and she readily admitted it was her fault.  Her child was in day care, developed an illness and that information was "called in" to the mom.    The call was a definite distraction but under the circumstances what do you do?   I think one possible solution might be the technology coming next—voice activated electronic devices.   This will not completely alleviate the distractions but I do feel it will aid efforts towards complete "hands-off", thereby allowing the driver to operate the vehicle in the manner intended.    My skirts are not that clean either.    I have an "X-M" radio with the button selections and screen basically front and center.  There have been those times when changing stations my eyes have focused on the numbers and not the road.   It only takes an instant.   I think "driver-ed" goes along way but I really don't see how the FED can be that proactive otherwise.   Awareness needs to be heightened.   I do think texting while driving is absolute insanity and should be outlawed altogether.

 

Manning
User Rank
Iron
Re: Who are the commentators, anyway?
Manning   7/3/2012 8:36:32 PM
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Charles,

Intuitively, I cannot see how diverting ones's vision and attention from the road and other vehicles can be considered at all safe.

Do you have data attesting to the safety of a touchscreen in a moving vehicle in traffic?

Also, you mentioned radios and CD players (etc.); They had (but in some cases no longer have) discrete knobs which could be operated by feel - and the radios could be tuned using preset buttons.  No diversion of vision was necessary.

Anopther point: a little research will show you that the NTSA certainly is concerned about the distracted driving which can result from use of such technologies in automobiles:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Distracted+Driving/Policy+Statement+and+Compiled+FAQs+on+Distracted+Driving/

As you can see, however, the NHTSA defers to the States to make appropriate rules.  For example: As far as phones are concerned, my home state has outlawed their use in autos, so their acceptability is certainly open to challenge.

Fundamentally, I reject the notion that our autos should become rolling home theaters.  And any engineers who contribute to that effort need to consider the likely results of their efforts.  I apologize if that sounds harsh, but I believe that we are responsible for the usage of our creations.

Manning

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Who are the commentators, anyway?
Charles Murray   7/3/2012 6:05:22 PM
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You raise good points, Manning. One of the problems is that wer're in a big, fat gray area here. Radios are acceptable. So are CD players, cassette players and, yes, phones, among other things. NHTSA not only hasn't outlawed those devices, they publicly went to bat for them (against the National Traffic Safety Board) late last year. So designers end up thinking that they're doing a good thing if they design an easy-to-use touch screen. An easy-to-use touch screen is, after all, a safer alternative to the completely legal (bad) systems that are out there now.  

Manning
User Rank
Iron
Who are the commentators, anyway?
Manning   7/2/2012 4:31:21 PM
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To all,


I have read all the posts on this piece and I have one thing to say: are there any designers out there?

It seems that nobody has addressed the one issue that is properly ours to address: should we be designing built-in distractions in cars?

There are other responsible parties besides drivers and the government - US.

For example, a number of respondents have cited the prevalence of touchscreens in new cars and correctly pointed out that they present distractions to drivers.  But nobody has mentioned that they didn't grow into those dashboards by themselves - THEY WERE DESIGNED BY ENGINEERS JUST LIKE US!

We must start to say no to the MBAs and marketeers who insist that the only way we can sell and differentiate our particular brand of car is to ratchet up the infotainment war.  [Personal note: as a design engineer I had done just that, and I earned respect and a normal retirement decades later.]

It is time to say "NO, I won't be a party to that nonsense, as it is likely that it will conribute to pain and suffering."

We have met the enemy and they is us.

Let's have some discussion about OUR responsibilies, shall we?

- A just-retired aerospace engineer

 

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Possible unintended consequences?
William K.   6/28/2012 9:27:56 PM
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I realize that the stability control feature has been mandated, and I wonder how many will die because of it. Or will there just be a crowd of people who just plain don't like the way the car drives any more? User backlash killed the seatbelt to starter interlock, I wonder how much user backlash it will take to get rid of mandatory stability controls.

The seatbelt interlock could have worked and been very effective if it had simply prevented operation of the air conditioner and radio unless all the occupants were belted. There would have been no sensable argument against it, and so there would not have had to be any interlock defeat system. The result would probably have been earlier seatbelt usage and avoiding the airbag mandate.

Right now the best way to reduce the distracted phone users would be to make the phones run in a push-to-talk mode.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Distracted drivers and automated functions
Charles Murray   6/28/2012 8:07:50 PM
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I understand what you're saying, William K. Unfortunately, it's a little late to stop the stability control mandate now; it's already the law.

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