It has been proven that the human brain can manage two or more things by toggling between tasks quickly, but cannot do two things simultaneously. This seems to be the root cause of crashes for drivers who believe they are expert multi-taskers.
Research shows that about 9 percent of drivers are talking on the phone at any given point in time, and almost one third of collisions involve cell phone use-even hands free use. Drivers who are on the phone often miss half of what is going on around them! If you must answer a call on the go, there are a few technological innovations that are helping drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
- Voice on the go: Through this technology, the driver can send text messages without having to use their hands to type. It works through voice command, so drivers do not even have to glance at their smartphone screen to type, text, compose, send and delete emails. It also allows drivers to create Facebook posts and Tweets.
- Vlingo Plus: Vlingo is a ‘virtual assistant’ that helps drivers to concentrate on driving without the need to remain busy on their phone. With this smartphone technology, simply push down a button and issue voice commands. It is known for its Intent Engine, that recognizes a user’s intent in order to take the appropriate action. However, it still requires you to tap on the screen to start the app, initiate the command, and again to send.
- Drive Safe.ly: This is a great smartphone application by Verizon that has been developed as the solution for distracted driving. This application will read messages and email notifications out loud. It will also let the callers know that you are unable to respond because you are driving. With this app, there is no need to touch your phone, and it is Bluetooth and radio transmitter compatible.
- Ford Sync: This technology has been introduced in some Ford models. It transfers the controls of your phone to an onboard computer. It is a factory integrated in-vehicle communication and entertainment system. It allows you to make calls, control music, listen to messages through the car’s radio speakers, and much more. It also acts as a GPS device that can speak directions aloud and even provide weather updates.
Are hands-free devices the ultimate solution?
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Hands-free is not risk free — just because you are not using your hands to dial it does not mean you are safe. The mental, cognitive distraction is the most dangerous of all." They go on to say that even though hands-free technology has been developed to help drive safely, it is not possible to do complex tasks without getting distracted. According to Robert Sinclair, a spokesperson from AAA, tasks like composing emails are disruptive and can definitely cause collisions.
Alertness can avoid collisions and save lives. We all know this, yet we barely hesistate to take a call, or glance down at our phone while driving in our cars. By far, one of the most distracting items in cars are cell phones. Bringing more awareness to this issue may help to not only keep driver’s eyes on the roads, but also their mind on driving.