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Experts say to focus on safety, not on curbing technology

With as many new car models including technological advances to incorporate interactive features (i.e. voice-based emails, hands-free phone applications), the debate over how to keep drivers safe continues. The conversation has intensified as a considerable number of states have passed laws banning the use of cell phones while behind the wheel. 

Of course, these laws are based on preventing fatal car accidents, which have become prominent with the proliferation of text-messaging over the last five years. Because of this, some safety advocates believe that future guidelines should focus on curbing the use of interactive modules. However, some experts believe that such guidelines should be geared towards educating drivers instead.

According to a panel of experts who spoke at the Governors Highway Safety Association conference, more progress would be made by educating drivers and helping them understand the importance of safety, rather than convincing automakers to suspend interactive applications while the car is in motion. The education piece could be conceivably be reached by changing social norms that contribute to bad behavior. After all, people are still likely to use their phones even if their in-car systems will not work with them.

Essentially, if the instant gratification that is created through text messaging (for example) is curtailed, fewer drivers would be liable to send (or anticipate) a text message while behind the wheel. One panel expert likened it to knowing that he could not send any texts while on an airplane, and believes that this behavior could be translated to driving. Also, if anti-texting messages can be analogous to "buckle up" messages that became popular in the 1990's, social change is possible. 

Source:, To fix distracted driving, experts say target the people, not the tech, August 27, 2013

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