Technology and Driving: A Love/Hate Relationship

Technology, Trending Automotive News on September 6, 2016

If you’re like most people, you have a love/hate relationship with technology. The undeniable positives being the endless information found on the Web, and the ability to stay in touch with friends and family all over the world. On the other hand, it becomes all too easy to get sucked into the pages of apps on our device, causing us to pay little to no attention to the people right in front of us.

The relationship between technology and cars is no exception to this love/hate dynamic. While technology has allowed us to make cars safer with additions such as automated emergency braking and air bag detection, it has also made it near impossible to focus on the one reason you’re actually in the car—to drive.

Back in 2011, NHTSA found that at any given moment, nearly 660,000 individuals were using their smartphones while driving. Given the fact that our obsession with smartphones and related technology has rapidly increased over the years, it’s safe to say that number is significantly higher now. We’ve become so accustom to having our phones in our hands that when it comes time to drive, we find it difficult to disconnect.

The good news is, different campaigns and even technological inventions have allowed us to turn the focus back to safe driving. Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. Bluetooth. These days you’d be hard pressed to find a vehicle without Bluetooth. With buttons on the steering wheel allowing you to place and end calls, Bluetooth allows you to stay connected while driving without ever taking your hands off the steering wheel.
  1. It Can Wait Campaign. Launched in 2010, AT&T had a simple idea behind their ‘It Can Wait’ campaign: Keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone. With over 10 million people signing the pledge since then, this is a great way to motivate yourself to put your phone away when driving. You can sign up here:
  1. Anti-texting apps. One of the biggest issues facing drivers today is the temptation to text while driving. You may be surprised to learn that there are tons of apps that prevent drivers from doing just that. Apps such Textecution and OneProtect don’t allow you to send or receive texts if the car (and thus the phone) is moving faster than 10 MPH. Other apps such as DriveMode and SafeCell send automated responses to texts and calls letting them know you are currently driving. While often utilized by parents, these are great for anyone tempted to text and drive.
  1. If you ever watch Shark Tank, you may already know about this one. To cut down on distracted driving, a group of young students created the SMARTwheel. The steering wheel cover detects if both hands aren’t on the wheel, and notifies a parent or loved one of how often, and for how long, one or both hands is removed.
  1. Education. Some of us operate with the mentality that a car accident could never happen to us. But in reality, 35,092 people were killed on public roads in 2015. Understanding the risks you take when you text and drive, or how dangerous distracting driving can be, is crucial to becoming a safer driver. Videos like the one below can be a great way to educate yourself and make a lasting impact on how you drive.

While distracted driving is sometimes unavoidable, we can all make the road safer by taking care of the aspects of distracted driving we do have control over.