First of its kind distracted driving study released

Texting and dialing are the most dangerous part of cellphone use while driving, according to a new study released last month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This, because drivers must take their eyes away from the road while they dial, search, text, etc. Called, “The Impact of Hand-Held And Hands-Free Cell Phone Use on Driving Performance and Safety-Critical Event Risk,” the study also found that interface hands free devices that link drivers' cell phones through their vehicles, as well as those portable devices such as Bluetooth, still require or allow motorists to use their phone hand held in some capacity, such as scanning and dialing. The study took place during the course of an average 31 days between February and November 2011 with 204 participating drivers. During the study, 14,754 calls and 8,610 text messages were recorded during the time the drivers were behind the wheel of their respective vehicles. Data taken included recordings of the driver's face, the roadway, and various kinematic data such as the vehicle speed, acceleration, range and range rate to lead vehicles, steering, and location. Participants also provided their cell phone records for analysis. This is the first such study that combines call and text records with continuous naturalistic driving data. Meanwhile, the nation's transportation czar has asked car makers to look at ways to minimize the electronic distractions inside their vehicles that require drivers to take their eyes off the wheel for more than two seconds at a time and 12 seconds total. "Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation's roadways," said Ray LaHood, U.S. transportation secretary. "These guidelines recognize that today's drivers appreciate technology, while providing automakers with a way to balance the innovation consumers want with the safety we all need. Combined with good laws, good enforcement and good education, these guidelines can save lives." LaHood's recommendations ask automobile designers to limit:
  • Manual text entry for the purposes of text messaging and internet browsing;
  • Video-based entertainment and communications like video phoning or video conferencing;
  • Display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, social media content.
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