How Different Types of Distracted Driving Could Change in 2018
Distracted driving is a growing problem that leads to thousands of injuries and fatalities. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 400,000 people are injured in distracted driving accidents every year. Now that more people are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, will the number of distracted driving incidents finally start to decline in 2018? It’s possible. There are many factors that could impact distracted driving next year, some for the better and others for the worse. Here are some predictions on how the three types of distracted driving could change in 2018:
Cognitive distractions are those that keep a driver’s mind off of the road. Daydreaming and talking to other people in the car or on a hands-free device are two examples of cognitive distractions. Cell phone use can also be a cognitive distraction, since it causes drivers to take their minds off of the road.
Safe-driving apps are expected to increase in popularity in 2018, which could reduce distracted driving incidents involving cognitive distractions. AT&T DriveMode is one of the most popular and effective safe-driving apps. The app will automatically activate when it detects that the vehicle is traveling at a speed of over 15 mph. Then, it will reduce cognitive distractions by silencing notifications alerting you of new calls, texts, emails, and more. It also sends an automated response to anyone who texts you to let them know that you are driving and will return the message when it’s safe to do so.
Apps like these may be incredibly effective in reducing cognitive distractions. Why? Research has shown that simply hearing a notification on a cell phone is a cognitive distraction for drivers. Therefore, apps like these that silence and hide incoming notifications allow drivers to focus solely on the road.
However, there are other factors that could cause cognitive distractions to become a bigger problem in 2018. Many car manufacturers are designing cars with “infotainment systems” built into the dashboard. These systems could serve as a cognitive, visual, and manual distraction for drivers in the new year. For example, Volvo’s new infotainment system allows drivers to join hands-free conference calls while on the road. Drivers who are talking to multiple people at once may have trouble keeping their mind on the road, so these systems could be dangerous.
Whereas cognitive distractions cause drivers to take their minds off of the road, visual distractions cause drivers to take their eyes off of the road. Examples of visual distractions include watching videos, cell phone use, scrolling through social media, or looking at a GPS device.
In 2018, drivers may be able to use certain technological devices to reduce visual distractions behind the wheel. Groove is one of the devices that may make an impact in 2018. This device, which is installed below the steering wheel, immediately lets your wireless service provider know when you are driving so they can block all incoming notifications and access to your cell phone. Since these devices will prevent drivers from being able to do anything on their phones, they should reduce visual distractions.
Some insurance companies are even rewarding their policyholders for installing devices like these with discounts. This could be enough to motivate drivers to install the devices and make the roads safer.
Manual distractions are those that require the driver to take his hands off of the wheel. For example, changing the station on the radio, eating, putting on makeup, or reaching for something in another part of the car are all manual distractions. Using a cell phone can also be a manual distraction if it is not a hands-free device.
In 2018, there are new laws going into effect in several states that expand the state’s existing distracted driving laws. Many of these new laws were established to target the manual distraction of using a handheld cell phone while behind the wheel. For example, a law that will go into effect in Tennessee in 2018 prohibits the use of handheld cell phones in active school zones. Tennessee drivers are currently allowed to use a cell phone in an active school zone as long as it’s a hand-free device, so the new law represents an effort by lawmakers to further reduce manual distractions.
A number of manufacturers, including GM, Ford, and Tesla are currently in the process of either creating or testing self-driving vehicles. Depending on when they are made available to the public, self-driving cars could also change the future of distracted driving next year. Drivers in a self-driving car do not need to keep their hands on the wheel to steer the vehicle, so in theory, these vehicles could completely eliminate the problem of manual distractions. However, experts have warned that drivers still need to be ready to take control of self-driving vehicles at a moment’s notice in the event of an emergency. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether this technology will increase or decrease distracted driving accidents.
There’s no way to predict the future with certainty, but hopefully some of these changes significantly reduce the accidents caused by all three types of distracted driving, especially for new teen drivers that are used to be distracted 24/7.