April is Distracted Driving Month for a very good reason: Many motorists continue to engage in the dangerous behavior at an alarming rate, even though they recognize how risky it is.
Consider this: More than 95% of motorists believe distracted driving to be one of the biggest safety concerns facing Americans, based on a survey done by Kelley Blue Book. Yet despite this, almost 50% of these same individuals say they send text messages while behind the wheel because, according to them, “It can’t wait.”
Telecommunications companies like AT&T have responded to this mindset through awareness campaigns that fly in the face of this notion. Similarly, the Department of Transportation, National Safety Council, and a variety of organizations offer programs designed to make cell phone use less attractive when at the wheel.
But what about automakers? Have they taken similar measures? It depends on the nameplates you’re referring to. Here are a few that are looking out for you:
Ford Motor Co.
Given that the Ford Motor Company was one of the first major car makers in America, it’s only appropriate that it be a trendsetter in distracted driving deterrence. It’s done so through Sync – an interior vehicle computer command system that allows drivers to “sync” various technologies to enhance efficiency. For example, Sync allows you to make a call via voice control, listen to or change music stations with verbal commands, and even dictate text messages, all in an effort to keep drivers hands where they belong – on the wheel. Ford says that by 2017, all of its models will come with Sync as a standard feature.
Not only is it important for drivers to keep their hands on the wheel, but their eyes on the road. Studies have found that people who drive and text divert their eyes an average of five seconds, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
It’s with this alarming statistic in mind that General Motors plans to install sensors on its new models that monitor drivers’ eye movements, multiple news outlets have reported. More specifically, GM inked a deal with its safety parts supplier that will have hundreds of thousands of models installed with motion-detecting sensors, according to the Financial Times.
Several automakers are testing the distracted driving avoidance waters. Take Hyundai as an example. During last year’s Consumer Electronic Show, the South Korea-based automaker introduced the world to its Highway Drive Assist System, according to Fortune Magazine. It works by preventing vehicles from listing into the left or right lane when drivers are distracted or nod off at the wheel. It’s not known, however, when the technology will become mainstream.
Automotive experts say that it’s only a matter of time before autonomous cars become available to buy. In the meantime, luxury carmakers are replicating some of the aspects of what might be found in self-driving vehicles. Also at last year’s CES, BMW rolled out an interface called iDrive, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. Representatives for the German automaker demonstrated how motorists with iDrive installed will be able to use simple hand gestures to make various adjustments, like pointing a finger to turn up radio volume or answering a phone call.
“Normally, you have to look at the radio and reach over to change it,” Jada Tapley, an engineer for auto parts supplier Delphi Automotive told The Journal. “We can reduce your look-away time.”
Even though several states have stiffened distracted driving penalties, it likely won’t ever go away completely. Once these technologies go mainstream, the dangerous consequences hopefully will.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It may not reflect the official policies of Elephant Insurance or current developments.