Public officials in Florida are working toward a deeper understanding of the reasons for motor vehicle accidents to find ways to prevent death and injury. One contributing factor in motor vehicle accidents is distracted driving.
Distracted drivers are certainly not a new phenomenon, but the problem has grown with the increased use of electronic devices. According to reporting from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during the five seconds that it takes to send a text you can drive the length of a football field at normal state highway speeds.
Although surveys indicate that most drivers realize that the practice is dangerous, many people continue to use smartphones on the road. This has led road safety groups to innovate some novel solutions to the problem.
Some proposals include measures like passing more stringent laws against texting or talking while driving. States like Florida that already have such laws on the books are looking at how these laws are enforced. Driver safety groups suggest more proactive measures that include:
• Smart driver contracts
• Agreements between teen drivers and parents regarding rules for licensure and driving
• Workplace policies limiting smartphone usage for employees who spend time on the road
Technological solutions are also being developed. One innovation is a “Do Not Disturb” app that initializes automatically whenever the user starts their vehicle. Such functions differ from other digital wellness apps because they don’t require users to opt-in to use them.
Tech companies and vehicle design engineers are also looking into ways to prevent motor vehicle accidents by including such functionality in design and product development. In fact, there are already AI-powered features on apps like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that drivers may not be aware of.
These include voice-activation, automatic messages sent to select contacts informing them that the smartphone user is on the road and screening out or blocking calls while a car is in operation.