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Driving distractions are common nowadays, such as eating or drinking, looking at scenery and talking with passengers. One of the most serious of these distractions is using smartphones while driving. This distraction is a common problem which often leads to car accidents, causing life losses and property damage in order to solve it, more awareness needs to be shown. Many countries have the rule of prohibiting smartphones use while driving, and some have camera setups to detect those who do it and fine them to help decrease the consequences of this problem. The reason for doing this report is the scary and alarming increase in smartphone use while driving in the last decade. This report will discuss the problem of using smartphones while driving, its causes, effects and possible solutions.
There are some causes for using smartphones while driving. In this report we will limit the discussion to the two most common.
As mobile phone ownership rises rapidly worldwide, the use of mobile phones in vehicles is also increasingly common. As well as the growing use of hand-held mobile phones, new vehicles are being equipped with Bluetooth technology, facilitating voice activation and hands-free phone use. Despite that, drivers still tend to use hand-held smartphones. Portion of the cause talking on a cellphone while driving is so unsafe is because our brains are physically unable of giving 100% of our attention to more than one task. This means when you are driving and talking on the phone, you are dividing your attention between at least two actions—driving and talking (SafeWise Team 1).
Text messaging is more dangerous than phone calling due to the need of looking at the phone to type and read. The proportion of drivers using text messaging while driving appears to be higher among young and/or inexperienced drivers.
There are also some effects for using smartphones while driving.
What are the reasons for the recent increase in the risk of having a road collision when using a smartphone? What makes a smartphone so dangerous when used in a vehicle? Smartphones potentially distract drivers in several ways. It distracts them physically. Instead of focusing on the physical tasks required by driving, drivers must use one or both of their hands to manipulate the phone. It also distracts them visually. Smartphone could visually distract drivers in two ways; firstly, drivers have to move their eyes from the road and focus on the smartphone in order to use it. Secondly, while talking on a smartphone, even if drivers’ eyes are focused on the road, they ‘look but do not see’. Drivers can also be distracted auditory. The focus of drivers’ moves from the road environment to the sounds of the smartphone and the conversation. This particularly applies when the sound quality is poor. Cognitive distraction is another way of smartphone distractions. Instead of focusing their attention and thought on driving, drivers divert their attention and focus on the topic of the phone conversation (Research Department 3, 4). All these types of distraction can lead to severe car accidents and very devastating outcomes.
Not only do the previously mentioned distractions end up causing car accidents and drivers’ lives/vehicles damage, but they also damage roads and public/private property. For example, a car accident can ruin pavements, break fences and destroy commercial signs and road aesthetics, such as trees and bushes. Luckily, some insurance companies cover up property damages after a car crash. But that only doesn’t cease the frustration of these properties’ owners. Some of them take such situations so seriously that they would sue the driver for his/her acts.
Using a smartphone while driving has drastically saddening outcomes. Unsurprisingly, the solutions for this problem are simple, but many smartphone using drivers ignore these live-saving tricks. I will be discussing a few solutions in this report.
Putting a driver’s phone on mute or turning his/her phone off entirely is a sure-fire way to avoid being distracted by it while he/she is driving. Of all the solutions to using smartphones while driving, this one requires the most pre-meditated effort.
A pro of this solution is promoting driving mindfulness.
A con of this solution is that a driver can’t use his/her phone for other useful driving functions like navigation.
The vast majority of the people agree and acknowledge that the driver should not be using a smartphone. If there are other people in the car and one really need to send a message, passengers are usually happy to read and write the text for him/her.
It helps promote awareness.
It could invade the driver’s privacy and it doesn’t work when a driver is by her/himself.
Using physical reminders such as texting thumb bands or drawing an X one one’s thumbs. This is an in-one’s-face reminder to pay attention to the road.
Promotes social awareness on the issue.
Doesn’t actually prevent using smartphone and driving.
Self-Driving (Autopilot) Cars
A self-driving car is a vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and moving safely with little to no human input. This type of cars takes a massive part in reducing car accidents caused by lack of attention on the road by automatically controlling the car’s mobility when the sensors installed in the car’s body notice closure to objects, such as other cars on the road, animals or even humans crossing the street. In the last 4 months of 2019, Tesla Inc., An American self-driving cars making company, registered a single accident for every 4.94 million kilometers driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. However, for those who drove without Autopilot, the company registered one accident for every 2.63 million kilometers driven (Tesla 1). These statistics show how superior of a solution self-driving cars are.
The car would make up for drivers’ shortage of focus while driving, which could save a driver’s life.
Technology can’t be fully relied on. Minor issues might happen to such complicated systems that might mess them up and not make them work at all times.
Let technology fix the problem it has created. There are many apps available to help reduce distracted drivers. These apps reply to texts using virtual assistants. Virtual assistants use voice queries and a natural-language user interface. They have the ability to partially understand received messages, create logical responses, play these messages as sounds out loud and send back depending on the user’s verbal commands.
This solution removes the temptation to look at one’s smartphone while driving, sends auto-replies and helps break the habit and dangers of texting and driving.
Imprecision. Some smartphones limit what assisting apps can do with messages, making them not as accurate as manual texting.
This report has covered the causes and effects of using smartphones while driving; to obtain a better understanding of the problem and to discuss some of the possible solutions. Using a mobile phone while behind the wheel is one of the biggest reasons of car accidents. The causes of using a smartphone while driving are incoming calls and text messages. The effects of using a smartphone while driving vary from vehicle accidents all the way to property harm. There isn’t a 100% working solution for using a smartphone while driving; however, there are various solutions to control its effects. Some methods of dealing with this problem are self-driving cars and assisting phone apps. In the end, I would like to recommend using at least of the solutions rather than blatantly using a smartphone. According to Liz Marks, a driver who has gotten into a car accident due to texting and driving, “I ignored those warnings about texting while driving because everyone else was doing it. So I thought it was okay. I thought I was invincible. But clearly, I was completely wrong” (1).
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