The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for the first-ever nationwide ban of cell phone use for any reason while behind the wheel of an automobile. The proposed ban would outlaw the use of all personal electronic devices (PEDs, except those designed to support the driving task) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia while operating a motor vehicle, a controversial safety recommendation with unanimous support from NTSB's Board.
You were right to think that there's a lot of bad drivers out there. According to a State Farm survey, nearly one in five drivers (19 percent) admitted to surfing the Internet while sitting behind the wheel of an automobile, USA Today reports. These are people who drive at least once a week. In addition, 35 percent said they send or receive text messages while driving, too. The survey pinged 912 licensed drivers in November, but the proportion of dangerous drivers might be even higher.
Flying around the virtual track so quickly that your whiplash gets whiplash may make you feel like a one-man Hollywood car chase, but, well, that might not be such a good thing. A recent study – which polled 1000 gamers and 1000 non-gamers – found that those who've wielded a gamepad in one hand may as well have been swinging a double-edged sword with the other.
In terms of risk-taking behaviors, gamers' penchant for throwing caution to the wind was very nearly terrifying. 31 percent of gamers said they'd run a red light in the past year compared to only 14 percent of non-gamers. Meanwhile, 45 percent of gamers said they'd given into driving's dark side and let road rage consume them, while goodie-goodie non-gamers clocked in at 22 percent. Across the board, gamers simply reported taking more risks: speeding, getting stopped by police, scaring passengers, using the phone while driving – you name it.
But that's not the end of the story. See, gamers also managed to pass driver's tests with fewer attempts and – here's the kicker – get into fewer fender-benders. So gamers aren't 40-car pile-ups waiting to happen. Rather, they're just in severe need of a reality check.
"It seems that while gamers develop useful skills and are more confident, they need to apply some balance with a sensible assessment of risk," said Tim Bailey of the study's conductor, Continental Tires.
So next time you're running down everything that moves and creating an infinite chain of paramedics attempting to resuscitate each other in Grand Theft Auto, take a moment to slow down and pay attention to the traffic lights. There now, doesn't abiding by the law feel great?
According to All Things D, T-Mobile USA is preparing to launch a new app and service that seeks to make driving safer for customers. The Drive Smart Plus app will manage the user's phone automatically in order to turn off many voice and SMS features. If a Bluetooth device is attached, the app can send calls there by default. SMS messages will be auto-replied to with a notice that the user is driving. The key here is the automatic part. Drive Smart Plus will turn itself on when it believes the user is driving.
The apps and service will be opt-in, and at first it will only be available on the LG Optimus T, but other phones are in the works. It will cost subscribers $4.99 per month for the Drive Safe Plus service, but a free Drive Plus Basic app will be available. The key difference is that users must manually activate the blocking features of the basic app.
The Drive Safe initiative is based on technology from Location Labs. We imagine it tracks GPS much as Google Latitude does, and takes note of acceleration on roads to switch on the app. That means GPS-related battery use, and another thing to run in the background. Will users want to deal with the possible issues, and fees? Let us know if you'd be in.
It's quickly becoming apparent that there's no limit to what Google Labs will concoct to make everyday life a little easier. The latest experiment is called "Open Spot," which is a free app intended to help Android users find free parking spaces.
There aren't any fancy GPS tricks or spy cameras hidden around town, and instead Open Spot relies on you, Joe Citizen, to tap the "Mark a Spot" button on the app when you leave your parking space. Other Android users within about a 1 mile radius will then see the open spot as designed by a red (just vacated), orange (vacated 5 minutes ago), or yellow (vacated 10 minutes ago) dot. And as an incentive, the more open spots you mark, the more "karma points" you're awarded.
So what happens when some jackass gets the bright idea to mark a bunch of spots as open even when they're not?
"We're watching for behavior that looks like a griefer spoofing parking spots," Google said. "We have a couple of mechanisms available to make sure someone can't leave a bunch of fake parking spots. If we see this happening we will take steps to fix it."
It's a neat idea, but one with limited utility until there are more Android users for something like to truly be effective.
As it turns out, you're correct in cussing text-happy teens who get behind the wheel and pay equal parts attention to driving and texting, but save a few obscenities for adults, too. According to a new study by The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, grownups are just as likely to fire off a text while cruising down the road as teenagers are.
The research shows that some 47 percent of adults who text admit to doing so while driving. Compare that to a Pew study last year in which 34 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds said they send and receive texts while behind the wheel. After factoring in that not everyone owns a cell phone, the report said that 27 percent of of U.S. adults are guilty of texting while driving, compared to 26 percent of 16- and 17-year olds.
What's more, adults are more likely to yap at each other on their cell phones while driving, the study shows. That number comes out to 75 percent, compared to 52 percent of teenagers, or when using the same fuzzy math as before, 61 percent and 43 percent, respectively.
Coming as a surprise only to anyone who has never been around a teenager before, Reuters reports that young people often ignore laws against using cell phones or texting while sitting in the driver's seat.
"The handheld cell phone is relative easy for us to spot, we can see when somebody has their phone up to ther ear" California Highy Patrol (CHP) spokeswoman Fran Clader said. "But with the texting, it's a little bit more of a challenge to catch them in the act, because we have to see it and if they are holding it down in their lap it's going to be harder for us to see."
As it stands, 19 states and the District of Columbia have made it illegal for any driver to text while driving, while 9 other states prohibit just young people from texting and driving at the same time.
At least one study found that drivers who text, regardless of their age, are 23 times more likely to be in an accident.
According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans feel text messaging while driving should be made illegal. Not only that, but over half surveyed said those caught sending a text while behind the wheel should be punished just as harshly as drunk drivers.
"If you're going to drive, drive; if you want to talk or text, pull over to the side of the road," Constance Drake, 71, of Toms River, J.J., said in a follow-up interview with the New York Times.
Americans don't seem split on the issue, at least according to the poll. Only 3 percent of respondents saw nothing wrong with texting and driving at the same time, while the other 97 percent disagreed. And around 80 percent said it should be made illegal to talk on a cellphone while driving, unless it's a hands-free phone. That's up from 69 percent in a 2001 ABCNews poll.
What's your stance on texting or talking on a cellphone while driving? Hit the jump and sound off!
There are few things in life as uncomplicated as driving a car. Really, there’s not all that much to it. Turn the key, engine revs up, put it into gear, point it in the right direction, step on the gas, and off you go. The Federal Highway Administration tells us that in 2004 the United States had 199 million drivers and 237 million cars. How hard can it be if nearly 90% of adults can drive?
As simple as this task is, there are all sorts of folks who want to make it easier. Modern cars are replete with little reminders: Do we have enough gas? Did we leave a door open? Are our headlights still on? But that doesn’t seem to be enough. Others want to make sure we know not only all about the car, but all about the entire transportation infrastructure that surrounds the car. TomTom will give us directions on how to get back and forth from work. (We haven’t figured that out?) And OnStar will tell us that we were in an accident. (How do we manage to miss something like that?)
What can AIDA do? According to Assaf Biderman, an associate director of the SENSEable City Lab: “Within a week AIDA will have figured out your home and work location. Soon afterwards the system will be able to direct you to your preferred grocery store, suggesting a route that avoids a street fair-induced traffic jam. On the way AIDA might recommend a stop to fill up your tank, upon noticing that you are getting low on gas. AIDA can also give you feedback on your driving, helping you achieve more energy efficiency and safer behavior.” First, if you can’t do this stuff you really shouldn’t be driving. Second, one nag in the car is quite enough, thank you.