Distracted driving: why it’s a serious problem that’s not going away

Distracted driving: why it’s a serious problem that’s not going away
Turning on the television or reading the newspaper, there’s probably not a single day that goes by without some sort of headline somewhere near the front page that details a horrific story of some kind caused by distracted driving. At the very least, we hear about minor fender-benders from time to time, but in more serious cases, fatalities are generally involved – thus, it deeply ingrains into our minds how serious the problem really is. So what’s the culprit in it all? Well, it’s actually our everyday mobile phones that are near and dear to our hearts that are causing the majority of the problems.

By now, just about every state across the nation is enforcing some kind of law banning the use of mobile phones while operating a vehicle, but in all honesty, it’s not having the profound effect that it so desperately needs. On any given day while taking a drive in a car, we can count on numerous occasions when we see someone blatantly yapping away or texting on their cell phone in the lane next to us. Call it brash, or call it a complete disregard of the law, these individuals are doing it mainly because there is obviously no one there to give them a ticket for committing the act.

However, you can’t completely blame them simply due to the fact that we have this undying urge to use our phones. C’mon, there’s this unseen temptation of some kind that envelops us whenever we get behind the wheel and have our mobile phones besides us. Whether it’s an important phone call that needs to be picked up or having to get directions with GPS, it can be very difficult for some to lay off their devices completely. And of course, the other problem is that some people are inclined to commit a wrongdoing simply because they know they can get away with it. Unless there’s a police officer on-site or some kind of camera system in play, we’ll continue to see people doing something on their phones while behind the wheel.

So what’s there to combat or reduce distracted driving? Well, as we all know, Bluetooth technology has been incorporated into just about every device under the sun by now. From the basic to the most high-end, Bluetooth enables anyone with a mobile phone to pair with a wireless headset of some sort to chat away while driving. Yet, we feel that it’s not really dealing with the problem, as our focus is still taken away from the road ahead of us. Sure they’re out to offer a “hands-free” experience, but how about the times when we’re getting a text message or email? Well, some smartphones employ technology that’ll announce messages through the headset, and even better, they can even do speech-to-text. Indeed they’re great and all, but in our experience, they’re not always one-hundred percent accurate – thus, we’re again tempted to interact with our phones.

Additionally, another good example of distracted driving can be found with turn-by-turn navigation. At night, you can probably see the inside of a vehicle glowing brightly thanks to a GPS or smartphone placed directly in the middle of the dashboard. Obviously, they do wonders in getting us to places without getting lost, but in the literal words of distracted driving, they momentarily relinquish our focus on driving in order to see if we’re heading in the correct direction. Sometimes, we generally rely more on audio directions given to us by our GPS app – though, it’s not always timed correctly for specific turns. When you think about looking at those directions on-screen, you might not have thought of it as much before, but there’s at least a second squeezed somewhere in there that takes our mind off the road in front of us. And it’s that exact moment that can make all the difference in what can happen – yet, we continue to do it all the time.

More recently, we’ve started to see many apps that limit or lock certain phone functionality while driving – such as Sprint’s Drive First app and T-Mobile’s Drive Smart app. Generally, they rely on the handset’s built-in GPS to sense motion to activate – but it’s already setting itself up for disaster with that. So what happens when you’re in a train or simply a passenger in the back of a car? Are you left to be locked out of using your phone then? Well, not exactly. That’s because some people might disable these apps entirely to reduce the frustration of having to turn them on and off for specific scenarios – and that’s exactly where it’s setting itself up for failure again. Adding yet more fuel to the fire, some of these apps require monthly subscriptions that you need to pay in order to use. Call it a double whammy or whatever, it’s indeed not helping the issue at hand, but rather, it’s perpetually bringing us in circles.

Rather than allowing technology to deter our desire to better the situation, it’ll be interesting to see how companies take on the problem in the coming years. No doubt Bluetooth headset manufacturers will continue to develop ingenious ways to reduce our distractions, but we’d like to see some drastic results.

In the end, it’s still the individual that’s going to be making the decision in what they do behind the wheel. Naturally, muting your cell phone can essentially stop the problem from even developing from the beginning – however, that’s the struggle we all face on an everyday basis. Seriously, if you’ve been oblivious to this rising dilemma, just count how many people you see on the road using their phones during a one-way commute to work. Trust us, the number you get will astound you, but more importantly, it’ll show you how prevalent this issue really is in our society.



1. taco5O.

Posts: 12; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

Some people get to distracted driving by using their iphone 4. Should get a Android or WP7 with voice recognition instead !

6. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

Hello Galaxy!

2. PeterIfromsweden

Posts: 1230; Member since: Aug 03, 2011

That's funny, i thought Taco didn't like Android ???!!! Wait, look at the username...

17. darth8ball

Posts: 520; Member since: Aug 02, 2011

Niiiiiiiiiice catch Peter, we have a imposter amonst us!!!!!

3. Phullofphil

Posts: 1846; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

I know though android does a really great job at voicE recognition. I didn't know windows phone does but the iPhones not as accurate. That's not my problematic it though. What android has that makes it awesome for me is a dedicated search button that you can hold down and it will pop up. I wish my iPhone had a dedicated hard button that did that. My phone is jailbrokwn does anybody know if I can assign my home button to do that if I let's say hold it down

4. PeterIfromsweden

Posts: 1230; Member since: Aug 03, 2011

I have seen that bada 2.0 will have voice recgonition too : )

21. shimmyx20

Posts: 280; Member since: Mar 03, 2009

If you press and hold the home button, the voice recognition program will activate

5. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

People are idiots for using their phone while driving. YOU CANT TALK N DRIVE SAME TINE its a distraction and youre putting yourself n other s lives at risk. But they dont care if they get in a accident or hurting or worse killing the other passenger while talking on your phone. All you have to do is stop pull over take your call. How hard is that? Guess people dont care as long they chit chat with their friend while driving.

10. SaddenedByPeople unregistered

Can you walk and chew bubble gum? Or do you stop doing ANYTHING while you chew that gum bud? Pathetic...Some people just cant multitask because their BRAINS dont work well enough...

11. ZayZay

Posts: 571; Member since: Feb 26, 2011

A report showed there is no true "multi-tasking" you can only switch your brain back and forth from one thing to another but you can't concentrate on 2 things at the exact same moment, your brain will not allow it. With that being said, I text and drive and have never gotten in a accident or a ticket for doing so I guess I am just better than the people who do get in accidents.

20. URC unregistered

Better outlaw manual transmissions. Can't be shifting and steering and pushing the gas pedal at the same time. Don't even get me started on rolling the window down.

22. ZayZay

Posts: 571; Member since: Feb 26, 2011

Well according to some police (Like the one I got pulled over by and not cell phone related) Everyone should have new cars and every thing should be automatic.

15. lolz unregistered

So in your case, chewing gum takes the same amount of brain power as talking on the phone? Based on that, I can only imagine how interesting your conversations must be.

14. SavageLucy42

Posts: 211; Member since: Mar 24, 2011

The problem is that everybody who does it thinks they're totally capable of doing so. That they are the exception tot he rule. Because of course everyone who's been in a distracted driving accident knew they were not capable of doing two things at once but did it anyway.

7. bluechrism

Posts: 99; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

A few brief thoughts on this (sorry, this is over 2 posts). 1. IN this country drink driving and talking on the phone while driving messages are spread in a "you will get caught manner" by law enforcement. When i lived in the UK, there were some shock adds, but also some also basically sending the message that it's not about if you get caught or not, but if you are the guy/girl doing this and hit someone, it is you, not the person who called, or the person who persuaded you to have another pint, that will face the consequences, and you were an therefore an idiot for doing so. Drink drivers and people who use talk on their phone (at elast without a handsfree) or try to text while driving are idiots, simple as that. Not saying the UK doesn't still have a lot of people who do this anyway, but I also saw a strong attitude that if you do, you're a moron. 2. It should be illegal everywhere to be in hands-on operation of a cellphone while driving. Phones should be in a holder of some sort if you are going to use the screen, and should be conected via a hands free bluetooth device if you are going to talk. The main thing is that yo should be able to keep both hands on the wheel and have full ability to use your head (i'e, no jamming a phone between ear and shoulder).

8. bluechrism

Posts: 99; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

3. Having said that - let's not get carried away. First of all, the car itself has controls we use for which we usually take our eyes of the road briefly - Car stereo & AC for example (including changing tapes/cds right). When driving we do talk to the person in the passenger seat, or back seats of their car. And to add to that dedicated GPS systems existed before every cell phone became a potential GPS device, and still do and do a good job. Heads up displays are also becoming more common. A little more dangerously perhaps, people have used mp3 players or other audio devices to get music to their car stereo from sources other than the built in radio/cd/(going ba ck a bit) cassette deck - (who bought a cassette connected to a 3.5mm jack so they could use their personal cd player with the car cassette deck? ). I think that if you have the right set up, there are some things that can be done with a cell phone safely, or at least as safely as doing any of these things. To me, using your phone as a dashboard mounted GPS/media player is just as fine as using a dedicated GPS device, or the car stereo or AC controls, IF YOU SET IT UP FOR DRIVING FIRST - I.E, will provide the functionality you need with the MINIMUM interaction when driving. You should set up the phone so you don't have to go through a million menu's or home screens to do the things you might need to do, and apps should have large buttons, not small one ones. Ideally, make sure that if there is an app you are going to use, it is open when you begin your journey and if switching apps is going to involve menu's, don't do it. One or two taps every now and then, sure fine, look at the screen for a moment to skip songs or see where you are coming to, fine. But in all this, make sure it's properly mounted so it's easy to see, with the screen on (no awkward unlock combinations). If you have to reply to a text or email, facebook or change to an app that isn't already open, or you have to enter a new GPS destination, pull over, park the car, do what you need to and then continue your journey safely. ONe thing for the future is to look at things like MIrrorLink being developed by the Car connectivity cosortium, where your phone is connected to the in-car display, and can use the phone's GPS, media, contacts etc, but in a larger display with a UI layed out for driving, large buttons and no access to the functions that have no place in the car (games, replying to texts, emailing, facebook/twitter etc). Nokia recently previewed an implementation of the technology, and there should be announcements about vehicles supporting mirrorlink coming before the end of this month. http://www.carconnectivity.org/en/Homehttp://conversations.nokia.com/2011/09/13/putting-nokia-in-the-driving-seat-with-nokia-car-mode/

9. SaddenedByPeople unregistered

lol I guess people cant walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. I get people should TEXT and drive because it takes your hands off of the wheel (unless you have an android phone, thank god for android)...People shouldnt email...but TALKING? Seriously, so its ok to use bluetooth? No wait, they say that talking is the distraction, so using a bluetooth doesnt fix the problem. This is all hypocritical BS and scare tactics. Next people shouldnt talk or have company while using a knife to prepare dinner because they could cut themselves... Lets get over this BS...use common sense and dont take both hands off of the wheel or keep your phone out of your line of sight and youre fine. SMH, stupid people...Why isnt there a law against eating and driving, or reading the newspaper and driving, or doing your hair and makeup while driving...get over yourselves and this government over control BS.

12. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1254; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

There are countless forms of distractions while driving other than phones. It's called life.


Posts: 6; Member since: Sep 21, 2011

What about masturbating while driving? I've seen other drivers taking care of business several times during rush hour and I think this is a much more serious issue. There is an emotional component that severely impairs the ability to operate a vehicle when one is experiencing the heat of passion.

16. SaddenedByPeople unregistered

No more ROAD HEAD?! Whaaaaaat?! Damn driving distractions! I guess all men are going to be saddened that the government is going to create a law against ROAD HEAD specifically since the current laws arent against DISTRACTED DRIVING its JUST about cell phones, next its road heaad, then maybe things like reading, makeup, hair, loud music, dancing, having passengers that may distract you etc... Lets come up with more dumb ass laws! yaaaay!

18. SavageLucy42

Posts: 211; Member since: Mar 24, 2011

How the hell do you read and drive at the same time?

19. cupcake

Posts: 106; Member since: Apr 15, 2010

on the way to work, be disracted by trying to see how many people are distracted on their phones... nice. seriously, some people are just horrid drivers. the most simple action of using your turn signal can easily prevent many accidents, but a lot of people just don't.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless