Distracted Driving Laws and their Impact on Driving Safety

Distracted driving has become a focal point for debate in recent years. At this point, it is well understood that most accidents are caused by driver error. This rate has been increasing in recent years, as drivers find themselves more distracted.

Distracted Driving

According to Mass.gov, the number of accidents caused by distracted drivers has gone up by one hundred and seventy percent (2014-2016). And that’s just based on Massachusetts statistics. Every state and country is dealing with the same concern.

One federal report indicated that there were 3,142 deaths associated with distracted driving – in 2019 alone. Delving into these stats a little further, young drivers under thirty had a higher percentage than older drivers.

Distracted driving can come in many forms. A driver could be focused on their phone, GPS, music, hundreds of different things. Think back to the last time you were on the road: how often did you see somebody on their phone or a driver without hands on the wheel?

New Laws

In response to the rise of distracted driving, many states have opted to enforce new laws. In America, forty-eight states have passed laws banning texting while driving. In addition, thirty states have banned handheld devices for drivers. 

Some states don’t stop there – twenty-four states have now banned all cellphone use while driving. As with many regulations, these are specific to the state and can have slight variations. Some states have even begun to tackle other forms of distracted driving. For example, New Jersey recently passed Maggie’s Law, a law designed to target drowsy driving.

In many instances, the laws regarding distracted driving tend to be harsher for teen drivers. Having a distracted teen behind the wheel has always been a concern. As such, there are laws already on the books in many states regarding teen distractions. These new initiatives are merely adding to what was already there.

Do They Work?

The real question on everyone’s mind is: do these distracted driving laws work? While no such initiative will be flawless, there is evidence to suggest that these laws impact society.

The University of Alabama Birmingham School of Public Health looked into the impact made by these laws. They found three critical factors. First, enforcement of the laws resulted in fewer fatalities associated with distracted driving. Second, targeting specific populations (IE: teen drivers) was highly effective in terms of reducing the number of deaths among this group. And third, a total ban on phones/handheld devices did effectively reduce accidents resulting in fatalities.

Car Tech Designed with Seniors in Mind

Supply and demand go hand in hand. When there’s a need, it is only natural that the market responds by creating an appropriate product. In this case, that means designing a car with seniors in mind.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are more than forty-five million drivers over the age of sixty-five. This is relevant information, as this number is a significant increase from the years previous. By 2030, it is estimated that there will be another significant increase as Baby Boomers grow older.

All of this means that more people than ever face the ever-growing fear that they will not be able to transport themselves safely at some point in their futures. The ability to drive places is integral for independent living – in some states more than others. Current solutions have proved not to be enough, so it is time to look towards auto manufacturers.

Enhancing Controls

One option that car manufacturers are considering is enhancing the controls already available to drivers. These options include access, visibility, and management. In other words, they’re working to make the cars more comfortable and approachable. While this will undoubtedly help, it is but one side of the solution.

Accident Prevention

These days, many car manufacturers have been working hard at developing collision prevention tech. This tech includes rear and side cameras, automatic crash notifications, blind spot warnings, adaptive headlights, and more. 

Taking it a step further are companies such as Nissan Murano, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo S60. Their models have an additional feature available to detect when a driver is becoming drowsy and prompt a warning. 

Injury Reduction

Sometimes it isn’t possible to avoid an accident, and that’s where the next round of research has been focused: reducing injuries. The University of Michigan and Wayne State University have been working on reducing injuries seniors receive during car accidents. These studies understand that older bones are more fragile and prone to further damage during a crash. The ultimate goal is to design a car that will help protect passengers as much as possible. 

Emergency Response

AAA makes driving safer for everyone, as they offer immediate response times for broken-down vehicles and accidents. Other companies have followed suit, making it easier to reach out for assistance when on the road.

Self-Driving Cars

While self-driving cars have yet to be perfected, there’s no doubt that they will help seniors once fully available to the public. Realistically, self-driving vehicles will make everyone safer in the long run; this is why companies have been pushing so hard to perfect the technology.

Radar Tech for Self-Driving Cars

The push to create a functional self-driving car has always been there – but the last decade has seen increased pressure. Drivers and manufacturers alike want to see the technology work.

Over the years, many different attempts have been made, with varying forms of technology backing the experiments. Until recently, the preferential sensor was LIDAR, but now RADAR is taking the industry by storm.

Given how dated the technology itself is, it might be hard to believe that RADAR is the new big technology on the self-driving platform. But this application is new – and it is giving manufacturers a reason to hope.

The Need for Self-Driving Cars

The past decade has brought about hundreds of different inventions to make driving safer – for everyone. Unfortunately, none of the current technology in place can counteract the distractable nature of the driver.

GHSA has compiled a list of statistics that proves pedestrian deaths via vehicle collisions have drastically increased during the pandemic. This is even though fewer people are driving than ever before. It is believed that many of these accidents were preventable. Following investigations, many drivers were found to be speeding, distracted, or under the influence.

In other words, the best way to create safe driving technology is by perfecting self-driving cars. 

LIDAR vs. RADAR

As mentioned before, up until recently, LIDAR was the preferred option for applied autonomy. LIDAR stands for Light Imaging Detection and Ranging, and it uses light pulses to map the surroundings.

Conversely, RADAR uses radio waves as a way of mapping surroundings. LIDAR had been preferred for its higher rate of accuracy. However, it has a few significant drawbacks. LIDAR isn’t as accurate during night hours, inclement weather, is expensive, and as early results have shown us: dealing with sudden obstacles on the road.

RADAR In Self-Driving Cars

RADAR first found its way into the automotive industry in the 1990s due to the variety of uses it provides. RADAR systems are tough, which is always a benefit for any automotive part, and they’re less expensive (compared to LIDAR).

The rising benefits of RADAR don’t stop there. RADAR systems can instantaneously measure the velocity of objects, which is critical for self-driving vehicles. Without this ability, it would be impossible to safely navigate a road full of other cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

RADAR also benefits from functioning during inclement weather and has less risk of damage should it be exposed to dirt. There is still a long way to go when it comes to creating the perfect self-driving vehicle, but RADAR is bringing us one step closer. 

How Advancing Car Tech Can Prevent Drunk Driving

The drive to create new and safer ways to travel is still going strong – especially in the automotive industry. Each year new advances come out, from better seatbelts to collision prevention features and cameras.

Most recently, the government has been encouraging automakers to develop a new line of safe cars: cars that will automatically detect whether the driver is drunk and prevent them from getting on the road.

Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act

The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act was introduced in April of 2021 as part of a larger bill. This infrastructure bill encompasses many concerns and has a one trillion dollar budget alongside the proposed changes.

One of those proposed changes is anti-drunk driving technology – in all cars. The bill has yet to be finalized, so nothing is yet set in stone. But automakers would be wise to start paying attention – and planning.

The bill has many driving-related concerns, most of them reliant on new technology. For example, the creation of an automated alert system for children left behind in the car.

Anti-Drunk Driving Provisions

While the wording is slightly ambiguous, the implication within this bill feels reasonably evident. Automakers will have a few years to design and begin implementing preventive technology, assuming the bill passes.

The idea is very similar to cars available to drivers with a history of impaired driving. The technology would automatically look for standard physiological features of an intoxicated driver – and prevent the vehicle from moving should the results be concerning.

One feature may be a more advanced version of an automotive breath-testing unit. This would potentially mean that each car would have to be equipped with a unit or a different means of testing for impairment – such as cameras.

The fight to prevent drunk driving has been a long one, and at times it feels like the impact of these lessons and laws has not been enough. Given the current car crash statistics, it is hardly surprising that lawmakers are trying to take matters into their own hands.

One of the primary problems with enforcing this new level of technology would be the additional cost – which would likely be passed down to the consumers. 

 

Are Smarter Cars Making Drivers Worse?

Who doesn’t love the idea of a smart car? They’re comfortable, convenient, and make our lives easier. Yet there’s a growing concern that the latest generation of cars may just be training people to be worse drivers – and that’s dangerous.

Who can forget the headlines from 2020, when a Tesla user crashed their car because they were too busy watching a movie. While this may be a stand-out example, it does raise a very valid concern. 

The Intention Behind Smart Cars

Smart cars are designed for comfort, yes, but they are also designed for safety. That’s their primary goal. The whole push for self-driving vehicles has less to do with lazy drivers and more to do with eliminating human error.

According to studies, more than ninety percent of car crashes were caused by drivers. In other words, they were caused by human error. Naturally, this explains why car and insurance companies alike would be interested in developing safer tech.

How This Concept Can Backfire

So, given the altruistic intent behind smart cars, how is it possible that the idea is backfiring? It’s simple – people are getting distracted. We are not yet at a point where self-driving cars are easily accessible (or necessarily legal), and that means the current tech out there can create just as much of a distraction as anything.

People get distracted by all of the devices in their cars. They play with the radio, their phone, and now the new shiny tech that comes along for the ride. According to a study run by State Farm, these distractions are making us worse drivers.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that certain drivers rely too much on safety technology. Adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist tools are being abused so that people can multitask within the car. Until we hit a point where self-driving cars are a given – this is extremely dangerous. The result is a road full of dangerously distracted drivers. Even if these drivers are in the minority, plenty of drivers are still too distracted by their phones

The Solution

Like many problems in the automotive industry, the solution comes down to regulation. More and more states are outlawing cell phones in cars – and that is just the first step in the process. Regulating these distractions is unfortunately essential, but that’s not the only step.

The other part of this process is education. Drivers need to be made more aware of the risk they take when doing this – and what it can cost. The automotive industry can get involved in this process by developing technology that discourages phone use and the like, much like the push towards seatbelts. 

Apps Making Driving Safer

Every day new technology is made for the express purpose of making people safer. This is especially true in the car industry, where safety is paramount – and the definition is constantly shifting.

Most recently, a new trend has been popping up in the auto industry. There are now dozens of apps out there to help people drive more safely. These apps are great for teenagers and adults alike and are available on multiple platforms. 

SafeDrive

SafeDrive is the perfect app for anyone actively trying to limit their phone usage while driving. SafeDrive is an app that believes phones can be a dangerous distraction in the car and works to reward drivers for keeping their phones away when behind the wheel.

LifeSaver

While LifeSaver is targeted more towards teen drivers (or, more accurately, the parents of teen drivers), this is an app for anyone. LifeSaver combines GPS monitoring with a rewards system similar to that of SafeDrive. Parents can track their teens and help reward them for keeping their phones safely tucked away. 

DriveMode

DriveMode is very similar to the apps mentioned above in that it discourages distracted driving by reducing phone use. DriveMode silences call, alerts, and texts while driving. Additionally, it can send out auto-replies in the meantime, so there is no need to worry about a lack of response on the driver’s part.

Inrix

Inrix doubles as a safety and map app. It learns from users’ driving habits, creating individualized routes that help avoid traffic. The goal is to keep drivers focused on the road and not figure out how to get from A to B.

Mojo

Mojo is another monitoring app, but with a twist. Mojo monitors user driving statistics and rates them according to how safe their driving is. The app allows users to accumulate points, which eventually begin to earn gift cards as physical rewards.

iOnRoad

iOnRoad is an innovative new app that takes full advantage of today’s technology. It uses augmented reality to map out the other cars on the road and will send automatic alerts when your vehicle gets too close to another.

EverDrive

Are you feeling a bit more competitive about safe driving? EverDrive is the perfect app for that. EverDrive rates users on their safe driving by monitoring acceleration, braking, and speed. From there, it provides total scores, which can be shared with the neighborhood.

The Learning Curve for New Car Tech

Who doesn’t love to buy a car with all of the newest gadgets and tech? Unfortunately, doing so does come with a bit of a learning curve, especially for those that aren’t quite so technologically savvy.

Here’s the good news: cars, on the whole, are designed to be user-friendly. This means that they are designed under the assumption that most people will thoroughly learn to operate their car, all gadgets included. Though for some, this may take longer than others.

Increase In Tech Means Increased Learning Curve

The fancier a car’s tech gets, the longer it will take the average customer to understand it. Still, many consider this a small price to pay for increase comfort, convenience, and safety. Again, the price is sometimes higher for others.

Voice commands can be tricky, especially for anybody with an accent – or even a voice pitch outside of the program’s parameters. This makes people feel like they aren’t understood or represented and can even discourage them from using the tech again.

Likewise, pairing phones and other devices to cars can sometimes be easier said than done. This will vary dramatically based on the vehicle and even the phone model, making it impossible to create a comprehensive guide for all.

Creating Something Familiar

Naturally, car companies don’t want to create cars that people don’t like or want to use. Thus, it’s their job to make this newly emerging technology as approachable as possible. For some, that means emulating standard technology.

New dashboards and panels in cars are beginning to look more and more like phones. This allows for the maximization of information transfer while also providing the users with something they already know how to operate: their phone.

Tips to Adapt

When buying a new car full of tech and gadgets, there are certain tricks users can employ to work through that learning curve at a faster rate. First, it’s essential to keep an open mind. Don’t jump into the car expecting to have a bad experience and hate the tech – that will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Next, start small. Try pairing your phone to the car. Once done, you’ll now be able to safely talk on the phone and choose your music – which may just help your mood as well! 

It’s also essential to take your time adjusting to new technology, so don’t pressure yourself. Or the car, for that matter. And finally, don’t be afraid to access the owner’s manual if you’re stuck. If you find yourself having trouble after that, the dealership or even the internet can be a beneficial resource.

Racing to the Future: Automotive Trends for 2030

It’s time for the automotive industry to start looking ahead. With all of the advancements in technology cropping up every day, now is the time to begin imagining what trends await the market for 2030.

The automotive industry has always had a talent for keeping up with technology. It has seamlessly integrated luxury items such as cameras, BlueTooth speakers, and lidar technology for comfort and safety.

Part of staying current with the trends involves the ability to look ahead. One has to imagine what the trend will be to have a design ready for that demand. As such, there are already dozens of predictions out there for what 2030 has in store.

It is entirely likely that by the year 2030, there will be a different power source available for automobiles. The demand for alternatives is already there. Just look at the prevalence of hybrid and electric vehicles. That demand is likely to rise over the next decade, resulting in a new breed of cars.

Likewise, the drive to create autonomous vehicles is still going strong. Yes, this industry has hit a few roadblocks over the last couple of years, but consumer interest is still there. While not every car will be autonomous by 2030, some experts believe that as many as 15% might be.

It is expected that the average customer will have changed by 2030 as well. Not everyone will want or need to own a car then. Cars will be seen as a mobility function, used primarily for commuting, trips, and errands. In turn, it is believed that sharing and rental cars will become more common in the following decades.

To keep up and partially counter this demand, companies will have to grow and adapt. They can either go with the flow by investing in rental opportunities. Or they can begin creating specialized cars to entice the remaining buyers’ market. 

Regarding the potential clients out there, experts believe that by the year 2030, every person will have 15 connected devices. Think TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, appliances, digital assistants, and security devices. 

This trend towards new connected devices will likely be reflected in the auto industry as well. Like current devices, they will be expected to eventually integrate with the cars considered more desirable.

How To Build A Strong Company Culture

The key to a successful business is happy employees. The key to happy employees is a strong company culture. 

When people are happy to come in to work every day, it makes them want to do better. Enjoying your office space and work surrounding is so important. By keeping employees happy and comfortable in the office, they will perform better.

Now that you know why its so important, here are some ways that you can improve your company culture:

Creative work space — Non traditional office spaces evoke creative work out of employees. Sure, having a desk and personal space to get your work done is important, but collaborative spaces have also proven to boost company culture.

Create a common space where employees can go to work when they need a change of pace. Everyone works differently, perhaps some employees would do better with a standing up desk option, while others might prefer to work on a couch with a lap top. You are doing your company a dis service to limit these kind of options. 

Flexible work hours — As I mentioned before, everyone is different. Not every employee will come in and do their best work from 9-5. Some people are feeling energized and ready to work really early in the morning and might like to come into the office around 7AM, while others cannot be productive in any capacity before noon. Grant the flexibility to your employees and watch the work quality sky rocket.

Foster an environment where people want to be — If employees enjoy the space that they work in, they will perform better. Company culture doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is up to the employees to participate. Hold weekly contests for some friendly office competition, start some clubs in the office that people can attend after work hours. For example, a yoga club led by someone in the office who is particularly fond of yoga. Wednesdays at 6 you all meet in the lounge and engage in a relaxing session before going home for the day. Not only are you potentially learning a new skill, you’re spending time with people from your office in a non work related way, allowing you room to get know your coworkers.

Social activities out side of office — Incentivize employees to meet goals with group outings as the reward. Happy hours are a great and easy thing to plan to celebrate the hard work of your employees that also goes along well with my last mentioned point. When people like the people that they work with, they are more inclined to come in and do their best. When they really enjoy to be where the work, they will go the extra mile. They will stay late to get some extra work done because their friends are staying late as well.