Over the past five years, as the number of people using smart phones has grown, so too has the number of people injured in car accidents caused by distracted drivers. Although law makers have enacted bans on cell phone use while driving and safety experts have stepped up efforts to educate the public about the danger of the practice, the number of distracted drivers in the U.S. has continued to rise. Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 1,060 people in the U.S. are injured in a distraction related car accident each day.
Because initial legislative efforts have proven ineffective, some have suggested that a technological solution may be necessary to prevent driver distraction due to portable electronic devices. One challenge in developing these sorts of technologies has been how to prevent a driver from using his cell phone while allowing passengers to use theirs. After all, most smart phones have navigation capabilities that make them particularly useful on road trips or when traffic makes it necessary to find a new route across town.
Recently, one manufacturer unveiled a new product that blocks anyone behind the wheel of a car from using a cell phone that has been registered with the system. The technology, called DriveID, allows those sitting in passenger seats, however, to use their phones to talk, text or browse the internet as usual.
Currently, fleet operators have shown the greatest interest in the DriveID technology. The system not only blocks driver cell phone use, but also allows administrators to monitor how and when a phone is used. The hope is that using these systems consistently will prevent commercial drivers from causing accidents while they are on the road. The added benefit for commercial drivers is that the system can be used to ensure compliance with federal hours of service requirements, which can also help increase driver safety.
While this sort of technology is definitely useful for commercial fleets, it may also be useful for parents concerned about the driving habits of their teenagers. According to several recent polls, approximately half of teenage boys and girls admit to texting while behind the wheel. Nearly 60 percent of 18 year old drivers reported that they text and use their cell phones while driving.
It is too soon to tell whether DriveID or other systems are the key to preventing distracted driving related accidents, but these new technologies may prove to be important tools to ensure the safety of our highways.