More adults are admitting they drive distracted even though they know it's wrong. In fact, a 2013 survey
conducted by ResearchNow revealed that almost half of adults admitted they text while driving.
According to the most recent data
provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately one in 13 drivers are manipulating some kind of electronic device, either hand-held or hands-free, at any typical daylight moment in the United States.
But cell phones aren't the only cause of distracted driving. The term "distracted driving" describes three different kinds of impairments:
1. Visual - taking your eyes off the road;
2. Manual - taking your hands off the wheel; and
3. Cognitive - taking your mind off what you're doing.
Texting while driving is one of the most common forms of distraction, and it involves all three types of impairments. On average, drivers take their eyes off the road for five seconds
at a time while texting.
Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that's the equivalent of driving the length of a football field ... blindfolded. Couple that with taking at least one hand off the wheel and diverting attention away from the road and you have a recipe for disaster.
While automotive manufacturers can't make you a more attentive driver, help you get more sleep, or keep your kids from acting up in the back seat, they do offer a variety of technologies to help protect drivers under distracting circumstances.
Hands-free connectivity and voice controls
Nearly every automaker now offers some kind of Bluetooth connectivity package that allows you to talk and manage your phones and media devices hands-free. Additionally, voice-activated controls and features allow you to easily use voice commands to control a variety of vehicle systems and features such as your mobile device, audio system, navigation system, climate control, and other electronic systems.
Crash avoidance systems
Accident mitigation technology with autonomous braking monitors the area in front of the vehicle to notify drivers of danger ahead (including stopped vehicles, pedestrians and even animals) and can automatically brake to help you avoid crashes altogether. These crash avoidance systems will intervene when you're most likely to be distracted, such as when driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic or when trying to find a spot in a busy parking lot. Add a fussy baby or a couple of arguing kids in the back seat, and the system becomes that much more helpful.
Lane departure warning
If you're not paying attention and stray over a road marker without signaling, lane-departure alert systems notify you with a warning tone or physical alert such as a vibration in the steering wheel or seat. More advanced "lane-keeping assist" systems selectively apply brakes or nudge the steering to guide your wandering vehicle back into your lane.
Drowsy driver detection
Many auto manufacturers now offer monitoring systems to alert you if you're tired or falling asleep. Audible and sensory warnings such as a chime, tap on the brakes, tug on the shoulder belt, and/or an illuminated cup-of-coffee icon on the instrument panel alert the driver that it might be time to take a break.
Looking for these safety technologies in your next car? Automotive safety is improving every day and appearing as optional equipment in more and more new cars. Before you buy, shop and compare vehicles offering these safety technologies using the GEICO Car Buying Service.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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