Texting While Driving

Communication, communication, communication, but at what cost? In many countries it is illegal to use the phone while driving the car, but many people still do so. Maybe using the phone doesn’t seem such a risky thing to do, but texting?

Figures suggest that many accidents are caused by texting drivers, and many companies are offering possible solutions to the problem. Some Apps block phones that are moving through their GPS systems, but this also blocks passenger phones and cannot tell when the owner is on a bus or train, so have override options. Maybe this override option would be attempted while driving however, and that might be dangerous.

A somewhat typical sight?

Other systems make it so difficult to access the texting facility that it would be impossible to use while driving. Well this is all well and good but a teenager that NEEDS to send a text will find a way, and persistence might not be a good thing at this point. The more difficult it is to enter then the more concentration required, and probably more accidents and deaths caused.

Many of the systems available today also require downloading, so they only work in the phone that carries the App. These systems only work if somebody has downloaded it into a phone (typically their teenage son or daughter’s) and the user cannot work out how to disable it, or doesn’t have another phone or friends for just such emergencies.

More sophisticated systems plug directly into the car and broadcast directly to the driver’s seat, but here hardware is required and other problems of system compatibility are raised.

Although I make light of the situation we are addressing an extremely serious issue. If behaviour does not change than these systems may actually put more people at risk, and that is obviously not to anyone’s advantage.

Many other systems that read out text messages or allow you to dictate them are also available, but I am raising a finger at systems that aim to prohibit rather than adapt behaviour, sold to worried parents that think they might be able to stop their children doing something, and not at those that are aimed at responsible drivers.

So does anybody have experience either as a parent or teenage user that they would like to share with the community?

For a few references and more discussion see this article on NBC News.

9 thoughts on “Texting While Driving

  1. My personal belief is that driving is a very responsible job that needs your full attention. Creating apps to block them is fine if people install the willingly to stop themselves, but I don’t think you can ever force such a thing on someone because sooner or later they will find a workaround. A much better approach is educate them and maybe show them some accidents that happened because of texting.

    • Yes I agree. When I was growing up they showed a lot of graphic photos on TV of people that had been killed by drink drivers, and interviews with people that had killed their loved ones while drunk. The mentality is different now and this is down to these campaigns more than threats from the law.

  2. Texting and talking on phone while driving is a very big cause of deadliest accidents on roads, and not surprisingly a big percentage of such accidents involves teenage drivers. Recently my friend was hit by a car while cycling and the it turned out that the car was being driven by a teenager with 3 friends accompanying him. These kids drive like maniacs and are so scary on the road.

    I think that no amount of apps can help solve this problem, the only and best solution is to instill a sense of responsibility in the drivers. We need to teach our kids to drive safely from the very beginning, when they first get behind the wheels. Several Teen safe driver programs are available these days. One such program is offered by American Family Insurance where they make your teens sign a pledge for safe driving.

    • You know in Britain if the police catch you texting you lose your license? The question is education though I agree. I may be a cynic but insurance company contracts that stipulate safe driving seem like another way to avoid paying. Kids will not stop texting because their insurance company asks them to.

  3. I saw a show once that tested drivers using a mobile phone versus drivers who were over the legal alcohol limit (I think it was Mythbusters) and the mobile phone drivers performed worse than the drunks. I would expect that texting drivers would be worse again. What about a voice to text (and vice versa) converter so you can text hands free?

  4. It’s not that there aren’t ways to avoid this problem. As you said Jonny, there are apps which allow drivers to write texts through safer techniques like voice commands, etc.
    Virtual Assistants have become popular after the Siri became a hit and I see their presence at large in the near future.

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