The National Coalition for Safer Roads is built on the premise that technology can improve driver behavior and save lives on our country’s roadways. We advocate for the use of camera technology to deter drivers in communities across the country from dangerous behaviors like red-light running and speeding. Yesterday on Capitol Hill, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller – Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation – convened experts from the traffic safety and automotive industries to discuss technology’s role in minimizing distracted driving.
Over-Connected and Behind the Wheel: A Summit on Technological Solutions featured panels that discussed the current state of distraction behind the wheel and efforts to reverse the trend; recent developments in technological solutions to distracted driving and ways to make them more accessible; and collaborative efforts to build on existing success in reducing distracted behavior. Panelists – who hailed from government entities, large tech companies, automobile manufacturers, and non-profit organizations – joined forces to examine which technological advancements are working to reduce distracted driving and which ones simply accommodate a driver’s desire to engage in distracted behavior.
Representatives from AT&T, Google, Samsung, Apple, Cellcontrol and several automakers discussed various technologies that exist to deal with the issue of connectivity and distraction. Some of these advancements aim to control or suppress connectivity behind the wheel, while others facilitate phone-related activities in ways that do not require the use of the driver’s hands or eyes.
“Distraction is inherent in the task of driving,” said David Teater, Senior Director of Transporation Strategic Initiatives at the National Safety Council. “We have made great strides in mitigating it, but I don’t know why we would want to add additional distractions,” he continued, in reference to in-car infotainment systems that offer onboard connectivity to drivers.
To conclude the summit, Sen. Rockefeller echoed the sentiments of his recently published op-ed that expressed “hope and expectation that the summit will spur industries to proactively seek technological solutions that can be widely adopted, readily available, and highlight to the public the life-or-death matter of staying focused behind the wheel.”
Distractions like those targeted by these technologies often lead to incredibly dangerous driving behaviors like red-light running. In June, NCSR and Focus Driven released an analysis that examined the impact of distracted driving on red-light running. Stop Distraction on Red: The Effects of Distracted Driving on Intersection Safety analyzed a sample of 118 intersections with red-light safety cameras across the country and used the findings to estimate that more than 7.3 million U.S. red-light violations in 2012 involved distracted behavior. Technology has the power to not only shed more light on the prevalence and impact of distracted driving, but it can also mitigate distracted behavior behind the wheel.