We all know the devastating and widespread effects of DWI (driving while intoxicated) but many of us don’t realize how much of a problem DWT (driving while texting) has become. According to Drive Safely Corporation a recent study done by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) says that a driver’s risk of collision is 23 times greater when they are texting.
In fact VTTI recommends that texting be banned in moving vehicle for all drivers. Texting while driving kills nearly 6000 people every year in the US alone. In fact on Tuesday, January 5th of 2010 I personally witnessed a brand new sedan plow into 3 cars that were in line to exit a busy highway in NY. My vehicle was only 2 cars behind those involved in the accident. I literally saw a young lady in a new import looking at the screen of her cell phone as she drove right into the cars in front of me at nearly 50MPH. She only slammed her brake at the very last instant and there was no way for her to stop her car in under a second. Two weeks later I am still thinking ‘what if I was 2 cars ahead of where I was?’
The threat is real and it is no joke. The warnings we hear about driving while distracted are not empty what-ifs, they are warnings about what is happening everywhere, all the time. We are all at risk of being injured or killed by a distracted driver whether we are in the same vehicle, another vehicle or even pedestrians on a sidewalk.
According to Drive Safely Corp‘s website: “Cell phone related accidents result in more than $40 billion each year. As cell phone use increases among all demographics the problem will only get worse. Smartphones which are capable of texting, browsing the internet, emailing and playing videos will see a 500% growth in sales from 2008 to 2013. In the last 12 months alone, the number of people watching video on their mobile device has increased 70%.”
According to Harvard Center for Risk Analysis: Cell phone use contributes to roughly 6% of all accidents which equates to around 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year. The annual cost of crashes caused by cell phone use is estimated to be $43 billion.
The government has been looking into this epidemic for a while now. So far nearly 20 states have passed legislation that makes Driving While Texting illegal, and last year a bill was introduced by the senate that would force the remaining states to pass similar laws.
Drive Safely Corp. (DSC) claims it has the solution. Last year DSC launched a suite of products, entitled “Stay Alert Features (SAFe)”, aimed at reducing motor vehicle accidents related to distracted driving. This suite of patent-pending products is intended to prevent drivers of motor vehicles from accessing various messenger functions of their mobile phones while allowing passengers to continue to use their messenger services.
The SAFe Product Suite is comprised of several individual products, each designed for a specific purpose:
– Anti-Messaging Technology (AMT): This line of products includes Anti-Texting Technology, Anti-Email Technology and Anti-MultiMedia Technology. These are designed to disable a driver’s access to SMS texts, Emails and Multimedia (audio, video, social networking).
– Anti-Browsing Technology (ABT): This product is designed to prevent drivers from using their phones to access the internet.
How it works…
All of Drive Safely Corp.’s products in the SAFe Suite utilize Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) data to determine if the user’s mobile phone is in a moving vehicle. If it is determined that the phone is in motion a screen pops up whenever the user first attempts to access the targeted function of the phone (SMS text, MMS, e-mail, Browser, Multi-Media). For example if the driver tries to read or compose an SMS text message a screen pops up and advises the user that “Texting While Driving is Illegal,” and then asks the user: “Are you a driver?” If the user answers “YES” then texting capabilities are disabled until the phone has stopped moving for a period of time. If the user responds “NO” (not a driver) then the phone enters the Attention Validation Sequence (AVS). The Attention Validation Sequence displays randomly assigned letters, numbers and symbols on the screen. In order to avoid immediate disablement of the phone’s messenger functions the user must input the data exactly as shown in a very short period of time. I actually sat in DSC’s driving simulator and tried passing the AVS while driving at around 40MPH and trying to keep my eyes on the road, and I can tell you it seemed impossible to pass. Trust me, I’m a seasoned video-gamer so I am pretty good at giving my attention to several things at once (chatting voice with my teammates, eating my late late dinner, answering BBMs on my BlackBerry and navigating my way through burning cities while being attacked by zombies) but I could not pass the AVS and alas my texting was disabled.
So the technology works and it is coming to your cell phone soon. According to Drive Safely Corp. their software works on all cell phone platforms and they are working with all of the major cell carriers to push this software onto all phones soon. The government is on board with them and they have no competitors. Unlike other software apps that disable texting (or other activities) while the phone is in motion DSC’s SAFe Suite cannot be disabled by the user. It will be uploaded to your phone by your carrier and it will always be there to enforce its rules, like it or not.
The thought of my phone being monitored through GPS and cell tower triangulation makes me wonder about privacy issues and the fact that this cannot be disabled means you are stuck with it even if it has bugs or causes your phone to misbehave, but if this really proves to cut down significantly on deaths and injuries resulting from textually active drivers I will simply have to acquiesce.
So how do you feel about this? Feel free to sound off by taking the poll and placing comments under this post. Keep in mind that in a recent AAA study 95% of those polled thought texting while driving was unacceptable, though 18% said that they recently texted and drove. Half of the drivers aged 16-24 said they routinely texted while driving.