Smartphones have revolutionized the way we communicate. At the press of a button, we can talk to loved ones, order groceries, or plan vacations.
However, that convenience comes at a cost, particularly while operating a motor vehicle. On far too many occasions, drivers pay more attention to the screen instead of the road ahead of them. The consequences of the deadly distractions can be catastrophic.
When looking at data from police reports in 2021, approximately 3,350 people lost their lives in “all distraction-related” crashes. Close to 400 involved cell phone use. Even worse, the number likely does not reflect the realities on roads. Those who survive collisions deliberately fail to disclose cell phone use.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently published a report claiming that the statistics are three times as high, with cell phones accounting for six percent of motor vehicle accidents.
Many cell phone manufacturers have stepped up to provide certain protections, specifically “do not disturb” features that block calls and notifications. However, many of the more prominent companies are creating apps that could actually reduce certain forms of distracted driving, encourage safer speeds, and provide their own crash avoidance capabilities in all vehicles nationwide.
Unlike in-vehicle technologies that take several years for implementation, Apple, Google, and other companies can introduce them to the market in a faster fashion. Tech companies are stepping up by integrating smartphones with in-vehicle systems that are more acceptable for drivers, including monitoring while on the road. Breakthrough alerts allow for urgent messages or communication with contacts designated explicitly by the user.
Even with these strides, more than the current offerings may be needed to make a difference in these dangerous and deadly collisions. For drivers, sneaking a peek at their smartphones may be too much of a hard habit to break.