Forty-nine states including Florida now ban texting and driving, yet drivers are still distracted. Texting alone isn't the problem. And distracted driving is a big problem.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that nationally 3,166 deaths resulted from accidents caused by distracted driving in 2017 alone.
That figure is likely understated, as drivers involved in an accident might be reluctant to mention that they were distracted, especially if texting. Both serious and minor injuries are not tabulated, only deaths, yet injuries caused by accidents can also have devastating consequences. Statistics aren't available for the tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, but the area's population density could contribute to higher rates than in other areas.
It leads to an interesting question: are car manufacturers making distracted driving worse with technology features?
Newer cars, with systems that allow pairing phones to car display screens and use voice-activated commands, still result in distracted drivers as they read the screen or fiddle with features. And regardless of display screens, drivers are still reaching for their cell phones.
Europe is leading the charge to combat distracted driving with the recent requirement of fifteen new safety technologies, mandatory by 2022. The European Union Commission expects that the safety features will result in saving more than 25,000 lives and prevent more than 140,000 serious injuries by 2038. The United States on the other hand has far fewer requirements.
Auto makers the world over are attempting to reduce distracted driving. For example, automakers have begun using technology such as inward facing cameras or detection software to determine when drivers are distracted. Subaru and BMW have installed, on some car models, software that detects when the driver's eyes are drooping or are not on the road for longer periods of time. Nissan and Mercedes-Benz are using technology that monitors driver steering and road drift patterns. Automated driving systems are becoming more common, and General Motors is using on some Cadillacs inward cameras that detect inattention when the SuperCruise hands-free driving feature is activated.
It's hard to imagine the U.S. imposing distraction-reducing safety features in the current political climate. However, in 2020, with privacy issues at the forefront, future safety requirements such as inward-facing cameras might be limited by consumer concerns. Many consumers might also not like the idea of having inward-facing cameras staring at them during their morning commute and potentially reporting behaviors to headquarters. The future will truly be a curious world when our every move is recorded and even our cars are no longer a private space.
Don't want inward-facing cameras in your car? Don't cause car accidents.
If you are the victim of a distracted driver in South Florida, get Matthew on the phone right away. Consultations are always free. Tel:(561)-382-6860.