Drivers face a lot of distractions when operating a motor vehicle. Drivers must obviously be aware of what's going on outside a vehicle, but there are a growing number of distractions available for drivers inside a vehicle. While distractions like changing the radio station, adjusting temperature controls and crying children are still a factor; now drivers have cell phones, Facebook and Twitter competing for their attention.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during 2010 nearly 9.5 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents resulted from distracted driving. In actuality, this number is likely much higher and with the proliferation of social media and the growing demand for access to Internet applications even while driving, this number may skyrocket in the coming months and years.
Fear over how distractions like social media lead to accidents, has prompted many including the United States Transportation Secretary, to call on automakers to disable the use of Internet browsing devices while a vehicle is moving. This recommendation follows a recent call from the U.S. Transportation Safety Board for a complete ban on cell phone use, even handheld devices, for all drivers.
While some contend the safety recommendations go too far, government officials believe the dangers associated with the use of cell phones and other mobile devices has become a public health risk on par with drunk driving and smoking.
Despite growing concern and stricter government recommendations, there is a rising demand from consumers for better and additional smart phone technology capabilities. The debate over finding a balance between delivering on consumers' expectations and ensuring public safety will likely continue to be waged in the coming years as auto makers are eager to please consumers and deliver new and innovative ways for drivers to use and access the latest technology.
Source: Bloomberg, "U.S. Calls for Ban on In-Car Facebook, Twitter While Driving," Angela Greiling Keane," Feb. 16, 2012