Distracted driving is an unfortunate reality of life. From time to time, even the best drivers can have their attention diverted from their primary task of operating the vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distraction was to blame in over 5,000 fatal accidents yearly. Cell phones, while demonized, are not the only distraction. Eating, drinking, smoking, and operating the comfort controls can momentarily distract your attention. This momentary distraction may seem harmless, but in that moment can have profound and unalterable effects for both the driver, and others who share the roads.
While text messaging is not the only culprit, the trend in crashes while text messaging or using a phone is earning increased attention. Most communities have instated laws making text messaging illegal while driving. This is partly because of the level of distraction involved with the practice. University of Utah estimates using a phone or handheld device while driving in a car is the same as driving under the influence with a .08 blood alcohol content. This is the legal limit in most states.
While devices are creating new areas of concern in traffic safety, they are also capable of limiting problems we encounter while operating a vehicle. Some phones are now capable of turning off text messaging while the car is in moving.
Perhaps if these applications can help to curb cell phone use and texting and ultimately reduce the number of fatal crashes and injuries on US roadways. However, this is only part of the solution – commitment from drivers to avoid distractions on the road is of utmost importance in dealing with this growing problem.