New Ways To Curb Distracted Driving

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This program was originally broadcast on May 12, 2016.

Distracted driving is a huge, dangerous, and growing problem. We text, we eat, we crash. We look for new solutions to get drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

An man works his phone as he drives through traffic in Dallas, TX. (LM Otero/AP)
An man works his phone as he drives through traffic in Dallas, TX. (LM Otero/AP)

Look around on the road these days and sometimes you’re the only one with your head up. Everybody’s nose buried in a smartphone. Texting. Dialing. We get it. Humans love to communicate. But distracted driving is becoming an epidemic problem. Vehicle fatalities have seen their largest spike in 50 years. What’s to be done while we wait for self-driving cars and even automakers embrace connectivity? Screens on board. This hour On Point: We text, we crash. What do we do about it? -Tom Ashbrook


Eric Tingwall, technical director for Car and Driver. (@EricTingwall)

Ben Lieberman, co-founder of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties (DORC). His 19-year-old son, Evan, was killed in 2011 in a head-on collision.

Charlie Klauer, research scientist and leader of the Teen Risk and Injury Prevention Group at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Terry Goguen, senior at Middlebury College. He designed an app called JoyRyde, which incentivizes safe driving.

From Tom's Reading List

New York Times: Texting and Driving? Watch out for the Textalyzer — "It would work like this: An officer arriving at the scene of a crash could ask for the phones of any drivers involved and use the Textalyzer to tap into the operating system to check for recent activity. The technology could determine whether a driver had used the phone to text, email or do anything else that is forbidden under New York’s hands-free driving laws, which prohibit drivers from holding phones to their ear. Failure to hand over a phone could lead to the suspension of a driver’s license, similar to the consequences for refusing a Breathalyzer."

The Wall Street Journal: Car Makers Test Technology to Make You Pay Attention to the Road — "Major auto makers are testing driver-monitoring systems that determine if a driver is too tired or distracted to drive safely, and the first such systems could be available next year. Such artificial intelligence systems that watch drivers and evaluate their fitness behind the wheel are designed in part to compensate for the auto industry’s embrace of Internet-connected entertainment automation technologies that researchers say contribute to distracted driving."

Los Angeles Times: Drivers need to get from A to B safely- not feed their digital addictions — "You have to wonder how sophisticated front-seat infotainment systems have to become before lawmakers realize that there’s little distinction between the active temptations of the touch screen and the passive distraction of a TV set. Ford and Fiat Chrysler have now joined General Motors, Hyundai and other carmakers in ensuring that their vehicles have the technology that consumers are jonesing for. As Ford says, it’s a triumph for the connected lifestyle."

This program aired on August 24, 2016.


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