Joan Claybrook, former Director of the National Highway Transportation Administration, along with several other experts sat down on the Diane Rehm Show this morning to discuss the dangers of distracted driving.
What we are doing on our phones today is more than what we were doing two years ago -- and who knows where things will be two years from now.
Experts suggest between 60-70% of crashes involve some type of distracted driving -- a driver taking attention away from the task of driving safely. There is no doubt that the increase in smart phone and bluetooth technology is bringing more distractions into the driver's seat. Government regulators and law enforcement are in a tough spot -- they have a lot of competing responsibilities, and enforcement of texting while driving type laws is exceptionally difficult.
There are a number of distractions in the car - from eating to changing the radio station to texting and using social media. The research is clear that texting compels users to provide a quick response. So the dangers, even subconscious dangers, that smart phones introduce in to the driving experience as severe.
Law enforcement reports that enforcing texting while driving bans is especially difficult. Establishing that a driver was texting -- as opposed to using GPS or not even using the phone in the first place -- is a tall order. One new technology being explored is a breathalyzer type device -- a textalyzer -- that allows police to determine if a phone was recently used for texting or application activity.
Smart phones are, of course, not the only source of distraction. The realtime feedback during the show reported odd observations of drivers including those shaving, doing hair, and eating a plate of spaghetti while driving down the road.
You can listen to the entire interview here.