Automakers Implementing Technology to Reduce Distracted Driving
Can New Technology From Automakers Reduce Distracted Driving?
Many motorists continue to engage in distracted driving behaviour even though they understand how risky the behaviour is. In a recent survey by Kelley Blue Book, more than ninety-five of the respondents in the survey believe that distracted driving is one of the biggest safety concerns, yet fifty percent of the study participants said they sent a text while driving.
Telecommunications companies have stepped up their game through awareness campaigns to remind drivers about the dangers of using cellphones while driving but what about automotive manufacturers? What are they doing to make using a cell phone less attractive to motorists while they are driving?
Auto Manufacturers Look To Technology to Reduce Distracted Drivers
Ford Motor Company was one of the first automakers to implement their Sync system – an interior vehicle computer systems that allow drivers to “sync” their personal technology in their vehicle. As an example, Sync allows motorists to make a call through voice control. It also allows drivers to dictate text messages and change their music stations with verbal commands. According to Ford, all their vehicles will come with Sync by 2017 as a standard feature.
General Motors is in the process of installing sensors on its new vehicles to monitor drivers’ eye movements. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, motorists who text and drive divert their eyes an average of five seconds. It will be interesting to see what General Motors does with the technology and how it will affect drivers.
In January 2016, Hyundai introduced its Highway Drive Assist System. It is designed to prevent vehicles from straddling the left or right side of the driving lane when they become distracted or nod off at the wheel. Although Hyundai showcased the technology, they did not provide a timeframe for implementation.
With automakers racing to be the first to bring autonomous vehicles to the market, automotive manufacturers such as BMW are replicating some autonomous driving features in their vehicles. As an example, BMW’s iDrive technology will allow motorists to use hand gestures such as pointing a finger to turn up the radio’s volume or answer a phone call.
Although these initiatives all sound good, technology can and will continue to distract drivers. Currently, drivers are distracted by their entertainment systems, by their GPS devices and of course, by their smart phones. Safety initiatives such as lane monitoring systems can be beneficial for drivers, but the additional technology to aid with existing technology can result in further driver distractions. Studies have shown that hands-free technology can be more distracting for drivers. As an example, voice-controlled technology such as hands-free technology can create more of a distraction for drivers than just dialing a phone. Young Drivers of Canada encourages drivers to put away the technology and enjoy the privilege of driving. The ultimate solution to driver distractions is to avoid them completely!