These days, the sight of drivers with phones pressed to their ears is all too familiar. Unfortunately, though, the problems posed by such behavior are mounting. Some call it an epidemic, others say it's worse than drunken driving.
One solution to the dilemma would be to outlaw use of distracting technologies in the vehicle. But the question is, which technologies would you outlaw? Phones? Music players? Navigation systems?
In truth, consumers will have none of it. When the National Traffic Safety Board called for the "first-ever nationwide ban on portable electronic devices" earlier this year, the proposal was greeted with nationwide derision.
That's why automakers and suppliers are taking it upon themselves to improve the safety of devices that they're building and putting into vehicles.
Click on the photo below to see 14 examples of how car companies are studying the problem of driver distraction and how they propose to solve it.
The Ford Escape employs Integrated Blind Spot Mirrors to make it easier for users to see "blind spot drivers" while keeping their eyes on the road. (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
Yes! We should have a national registry of all phone owners. Make them get a permit to own a car and a phone at the same time. We would have to close that phone show loop hole as well. Every time they get into a car they have to secure their phones with an approved locking device. Oh and make sure to ban any phone that is scary looking. Then we could maybe have police do random inspections to make sure that all phones in vehicles are secure!
Afterall, why insist on people taking responsibility for their own actions, blame the devices and the manufaturers.
By the way, how does a passenger make a call if we follow your advice?
Thanks for that input, Chuck, that makes sense. OTOH, I'm not sure the entire infrastructure is worth building to solve primarily that problem. I think better mass transit systems are an excellent alternative.
I agree with Nadine & Ann. What happened to PAY ATTENTION. There is one thing that most people do daily that can hurt/kill them & it's drive a car. It' like eveyone wants to do anything but operate the car.
Ann, your situation is actually a good example of the value of the DSRC-based (dedicated short range communications) intelligent highway. On the intelligent highway, both of your cars would have known the other's intentions, even if the you, the drivers, could not see each other.
cvandewater, I know what you mean, having driven in all kinds of traffic for 40-plus years, much of dangerous and high-speed and/or rural while crossing creeks or navigating twisty windy steep mountain roads. In the incident I referred to, we were both signalling, but could not see each other's signal because we were almost parallel in the two lanes, and both slowing down at the same rate assuming the other guy would keep going at the previous rate. Point is, no matter what the safety designs are or how much attention is being paid, stuff happens at high speed in 4D.
Ann, participating in traffic is inherently risky because people make mistakes and heavy objects at high speeds are involved. Still, most accidents are avoidable (as long as at least one participant is in control of his vehicle *and* aware of the danger) when paying attention to what is happening around and able to respond in time. That is one reason that I hate the behavior of "diving" abruptly into a lane that I see some drivers do (even without signaling) and I will always change lane slow enough that others and I can anticipate the situation that someone else also started the process of moving into the same lane at the same time - both have some time to see what is happening and compensate before any vehicles are touching each other - in contrast to the behavior of jerking the vehicle into the new spot. The only drawback is that I run a greater risk of getting the blame in case of an accident that I moved into the lane after it was already occupied (by someone moving faster). I can deal with that because in most cases I can avoid the accident from happeing in the first place.
I agree that blind spots cannot eliminated entirely and that is also why I quoted the European regulation that since a few years requires the blind spot mirrors on the bigger vehicles that were relatively often involved in this type of accident and due to their size and construction, caused the most threat of loss of life.
Legal action on reduction of distraction might be necessary - interesting idea that was suggested on the blog for disabling cell phone from normal calling when in a moving vehicle. Even though handheld calling was outlawed in California, I see a large group of drivers break that law on daily basis, so the technological solution is one way to remove that threat from our roads.
I've done that very careful adjustment of the side mirrors to almost eliminate the blind spot. But "almost" isn't good enough, and as another person commented, it's gotten harder to turn my neck around. Plus, taking your eyes off the road is just not a good idea, especially that far. So that's why I got the little stick-on ones. Integrating them seems self-evidently necessary. Then there are the situations they'll never solve, like you and the car in the lane next to you deciding to change lanes--into each other's lane--simultaneously.
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