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Automation Perils
Watashi   1/10/2012 10:17:50 AM
I, like many others, take driving seriously and know my limitations when it comes to distractions. Whether it is mechanical aptitude, good understanding of physics, or experience pushing vehicles to their limits; I have a little higher tolerance to distractions than others. But I would not attempt half of what I see other drivers doing every day with or without cell phones. 

I can only image what these morons will be doing if driver automation is pushed into the market.  We can engineer automated aids to driving, but giving them to the masses that don't understand the system limits is asking for disaster.  I can picture some idiot putting on the adaptive cruise control, activating the lane steering assist, and setting an alarm so he can take a nap on a highway drive, thinking he only needs to be awake when he gets close to his destination.

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Don't take mine until you give up yours
Watashi   1/10/2012 10:16:09 AM
Last year I was run out of my lane by a VA state trooper on I-95.  He was playing on his computer, driving 5-10 mph UNDER the speed limit in the fast lane, and weaving everywhere. My horn was all that averted an accident (or perhaps it was my special hand gesture).  If the "authorities" would like to start removing electronics from cars, let them start with their own. 

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New Innovation in Electronics to Solve the Problem - NOT YET
JamesPDX   1/10/2012 2:29:24 AM
1 saves
I agree that distractions will continue to munt with time until we deploy the automated driver assist methodologies that have been mentioned and then some.  Freightliner (now Daimler Trucks, Portland, Oregon) has been working on these technologies for the past 12 years that I am personally aware of.  Those technologies have been out there among many of the transportation vehicle designers for quite some time, and are being tested constantly.  Universities have been testing their concept auto-driver modules for decades.  They have their own numerous issues.  I do not believe that this issue is moot as you say, because of the advances in EE designs and technology.  We have a very long way to go before we are stepping into a "Fifth Element" vehicle with Bruce Willis.  This topic/issue is current and it will be a long time before all vehicles are of that futuristic type.

The enforcement of the specific law herein is not possible in today's environments where there are far more pressing concerns for the PDs of whatever city you're in, and "check points" fall into this area.  It is obvious as any of us can bear witness to that many drivers are in violation of the cell phone laws.  Yester year, that was not the case and you might see several patrol cars while traveling.  They were mostly seen as a reminder of the laws, but did in fact give tickets.  Today, you might never see an officer of the law for several days or weeks while traveling.

The vehicle controls do not necessarily need our undivided attention to operate.  They are mostly used in a second nature application.  It is the not specific vehicle controls that are distracting the drivers.  We have been trained to yield all of our attention to the person that we are in conversation with.  That includes the person or persons in the vehicle with the driver. 

Going back to the idea that drivers of automobiles need or should be licensed more rigorously, public transportation drivers must be licensed for the vehicles that they are to operating.  They are disallowed from taking part in any conversation while the vehicle that they are operating in moving.  There are notices near those drivers that state the passengers are not allowed to talk with the driver when the vehicle is in motion.  Governing the licensing would be a horrendous task to take on and please everyone.  And who would monitor drivers for violations?  As was pointed out, it is not a legal issue but an enforcement issue.

Reference was made to the older generation or geriatric (ever-aging) drivers as being a cause of the problem.  I do not agree with that assessment.  It is the lesser experienced driver, young, old, or in their mid-life crises, who are in the cell phone user boat.  Most anyone with enough experience or training will reframe from the use of cell phones while driving, whether they are in traffic or on a winding country road.  They will either ignore the call or find a way to pull over safely to have a conversation.  They might answer the call, but only to inform the caller that they are driving and will return the call shortly or continue when the have safely stopped the vehicle.

Yes, and if we ban communications devices al together, then when would the various emergency groups have permission to use them?

I remember my Human Factors class with Dr. William Farrell at U of AZ some years back, where we tested our reflexes with a Telex Model-33 for responses under various distracting conditions.  The results were similar to Semipro's (below).  This topic is one of concern to all of us who wish to be safe on the roads and streets.

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Banning Electronics? It will become a moot point
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   1/10/2012 12:07:11 AM

Wow 35 posts and counting – Obviously a Hot topic.  Yes, consumers want more and more electronics and responsible mature drivers will be able to handle them all.

But I think there is a bigger issue looming that will make all of this moot.   I believe we are in a transitional time in the electronics and automotive industries where, over the next few years, the autonomy of the vehicle will overcome the risk of distracted driving, and smart cars will intelligently behave more like trains, allowing the passengers – and drivers – the luxury of electronic distractions without the risk of accidental collisions. 

Refer back to a recent article that covered this topic well:  "Ready to Be Chauffeured by Your Car?"  Nov 21, 2011 (also by Charles Murray) which also had a whopping 37 comments, one of which was: 'Autonomy of the Auto; has a nice ring to it." Describing the hopeful future of smooth sensory operation of the autonomous auto and the related safety aspects.

Charles Murray
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Re: Really??
Charles Murray   1/9/2012 10:22:50 PM
It certainly is not necessary for the government to step in. The Secretary of Transportation has rejected the idea.

William K.
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Cellphones and driving safety?
William K.   1/9/2012 6:04:28 PM
There are a few errors and several differences relative to who is using what while driving. For firemen, it is not the driver looking at the computer, for the police, they mostly use the computer while stopped, either before chasing or after stopping somebody. And for HAMs and CB operators, those radios are push-to-talk, release to listen, instead of full-duplex like a cell phone or a real phone. THat makes a HUGE difference in the degree of concentration required.

Of course there will never be a valid law against talking on the cell phone while driving, or even just against using the cell phone while driving, because the celular industry has way more money to spend than the tobacco industry ever had, and look at how long it took to determine that smoking might be hazardous. So the money will make the laws and there is probably not much that anyone can do about it, no matter how many hundreds are killed. REally big money does get it's way.

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Don't eve consider a ban...
Harpo-54   1/9/2012 5:41:36 PM
See a post by Walter Williams...


I cannot write it better myself...

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Re: Distracted Driving
bdcst   1/9/2012 3:26:27 PM
And don't forget amateur radio enthusiasts who can gab for hours while commuting without getting into accidents.  Some if it is practice.  Some of it is common sense.  If you ever listen to 2 meter amateur radio repeaters you'll hear lots hams talking while driving.  But if they get into heavy traffic they'll typically say 73 and hang up their microphone until traffic lightens up.

CB'ers do the same but often without the good sense to hang it up.  Yet they too are rarely involved in accidents, though they are often warning fellow denizens of 27 MHz about accidents up ahead.

That said, any distraction from the main task of driving is a problem.  But attacking cell phones as the main culprit is silly.  How about the driver who is busy combing their hair using those sunvisor mirrors.  Shouldn't they be banned?

What about the crying child in the passenger seat or the fighting children in the rear?  Should we ban transport of children in cars with only one adult onboard?

User Rank
distracted driving...
Thinking_J   1/9/2012 3:13:35 PM
Driving distracted .. everyone agrees is bad  and should be minimized.

But making laws to ban Cell phone usage has several issues/limitations:

- 3K accidents/ year? out of 30-40K car related deaths / year.. (approximately 10%). Is this where the focus should be?

- of this 10%.. what percentage is distraction from cell usage? further reducing the significance of cell phone usage.

- What about other distractions? As stated by others, there are many and most are impossible to do anything about. Examples: conversations with passengers, eating, drinking coffee, SMOKING (a fire in your hand!), blowing your nose, etc..

- We ban drinking and driving... does the act of making it illegal stop it from happening? obviously not. It has a modest effect. Education / liability costs on the subject have a much bigger impact.

We (in the US) are driving more miles than ever before and with more distracted lives.. yet our fatality rate (accidents/mile driven) has been on the decline for a long time.

accident / fatality figures are very misleading.

accident / fatiality RATES are much more meaningful.

see: http://www.motorists.org/other/crash-data




User Rank
Re: Distracted Driving
David12345   1/9/2012 2:52:39 PM
Good points "Bob from Maine".

I still think "user friendly" controls that do not REQUIRE looking down and reading to operate would be an asset for the driver.  Pilots have "heads-up" displays for that very reason.

A glance down is no big deal, but if you need to focus attention away from the road, it can be a problem. I think our police and firefighters do an amazing job with all the multitasking they do under stressful conditions.  I think their intent focus and responsible effort to keep in touch with "the big picture" is the only reason that it doesn't create more problems.

Unfortunately, I do not see the average or below average driver maintaining that standard.  Should we do nothing and let "natural selection" take its course, or at least try to make the operational environment as user friendly as possible?

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