Monday, February 11, 2008

10 Driving Distractions and How To Deal With Them

Like most young drivers, you probably live out of your car as you shuttle between school, work and home. Your ride is your dressing room, your nightclub on wheels, your lunch room and even your meditation room.But, unfortunately, as many young drivers discover each year, driving is a task that requires your undivided attention, especially since you're still green to the scene.

Fact is, drivers between the ages of 16 to 19 are four times likelier than older drivers to be involved in car accidents. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety stats still list car crashes as the leading cause of death for teen drivers and attribute this to driver inexperience and juvenile behavior (i.e. tailgating, speeding, etc.). Throw multitasking in the mix and you're asking for trouble...and not the good kind.The following are driving distractions you may be all too familiar with as well as ways to preserve your focus when behind the wheel.

Chatting with friends: Turns out, young drivers with young passengers tend to get in more accidents than those driving alone, inspiring many states to include passenger restrictions in graduated driver licensing. Makes sense, since there's nothing like a friend to tease you or say something compelling to get you to take your eyes off the road. And, sure, no one wants to be the mom in the car, but when you're behind the wheel, it's OK to tell your friends, "Shut it, I'm driving."

Cell phone use: Regardless of whether you have a headset, save that phone conversation about where tonight's hot party is for later, preferably when you're stopped or, even better, out of the car. Turns out, conversing is a bigger distraction than fidgeting with a phone or headset. But if you just have to take the call, tell the person on the other end that you're on the road and will call them back later.

Text and go: Texting is probably one of the best ways to communicate: instant gratification without disturbing the receiving party and you don't have to talk to them if you don't want to. But typing while you're driving? Not a good idea — you only have two hands, and they're better off on the steering wheel. Best save this task for when you can safely compose a note. If you can say it in a text, the message can wait until you're parked.

Playing DJ: There's nothing like cruising to your favorite songs. But that split-second you lean over to change that CD or switch to a different radio station is just enough time for an accident to happen. To prevent this, invest in a CD changer with your albums of choice at the ready. And program your favorite radio stations into the presets so you don't have to use the "Seek" or "Tune" buttons to scroll through them. If you have an iPod and your car is equipped with an auxiliary input or you have another way to hook up your iPod, create a playlist of fave tunes to cruise to so you're not scrolling through the menus as you drive.

Taking it to go: Sometimes you only have so much time to enjoy a meal so it's yet another visit to the drive-thru for you. But instead of juggling your soda with your fries with your burger, wait until you're parked before you chow down. If not, you might find yourself in a situation in which the only recipe you're enjoying is one for disaster. It's hard to give the road the attention it needs when you're focused on getting your grub on and not spilling on yourself.

Feeling the music: Sure, everyone's guilty of blasting on their tunes in the car to accompany their singing and smoking-hot chair-dancing moves. Unfortunately, car karaoke can put you in danger since you won't be able to hear the horns of other motorists or emergency vehicle sirens above your falsetto high note. Instead, save that earth-thumping boom for your home. Enjoy your in-car tunes at a reasonable level since you need to hear as well as see when you're on the road.

Fidgeting with the controls: It's only natural to want to fine-tune your situation while you're on the road, but spend too much time messing with the controls and you could be messing with danger. Wanna turn down the thermostat, flick on cruise control or hit the recirculating button while behind the wheel? Then memorize the layout of your mobile mission control center beforehand so that you can program, turn things on and off, and switch functions without even looking at the dash.

Preening on the road: You may think you're saving time by multitasking as you're putting on makeup or brushing your hair while you drive. But what you're really doing is setting yourself up for a costly lesson in driving while distracted. All it takes is that couple of seconds you look in the mirror for a collision to happen. Besides, what's it going to hurt to just pretty yourself up when you get to your destination, before you get out of the car?

Mad as hell and taking it on the road: Sometimes a long drive seems like just the thing to calm you down. In reality, it could be the worst thing to do when you're angry or upset. Driving angry is like driving drunk. Your judgment is off, you're probably amped up and you don't realize that you're flooring the gas pedal. To prevent an ugly situation from getting uglier, just stay away from anything with wheels until your heart rate has returned to normal.

Lost in directions: Reading maps or directions with one hand on the wheel can be dangerous. Instead, map out your location and get a good idea of where you're heading before you get in your car, or pull over if you need to take a closer look at your flight plan while en route. Map sites like Google Maps and MapQuest make getting lost a thing of the past by giving you turn-by-turn directions to your destination.

1 comment:

Mouhamad A. said...

I strongly disagree that cell phone converstation on a hand free system is equally dangerous to hand held conversation.Unlike all the pseudo research claiming that the conversation causes the distraction and not holding the phone, the facts are the two topics are different and each has their own drawback and effects, with hand held being worst for distraction and for effecting driver ability to respond to emergencies.

I agree that cell phone use while driving is an epidemic sweeping the globe. For each car on the road,(roughly 650 Millions world wide), there’s at least 4 Cell phones and the possibility of a driver having a cell phone is 4 to 1. Unfortunately, there are no business models to address this problem, so existing automotive and telecom business models continue to clash on the road.
Let’s face it, connectivity gives us competitive edge. If we turn off our cell phones, we will be passed by Europe, Japan and the rest of the world. When banning Cell phone, legislators put their constituents at a disadvantage to others where legislators did not enact similar laws. When it comes to teenagers, I want mine to stay in touch. What we need is middle ground that's based on safety.
This is where innovative thinking can come in to solve the problem by re-engineering our life behind the wheel while including teenagers as well as elderly into the solution. This Re-engineering should create order in the vehicle and give priority to driving tasks over other activities, but still enable other activities while helping keep/or even assuring Eyes on the Road and Hands on the Wheel.
We have developed, proved and globally patented a system that balances the entire driving experience with emphasis on safety, but still allowing drivers to use communication technologies while driving. Our system has the following key features:

1- Hands are monitored to be on the steering wheel, this enables configuration to enable or disable devices when hands status is not compliant with safety.

2- The driver controls all accessories, including cell phones from “thumb gesture” on the steering wheel.

3- Incoming communications are silenced when Drivers are passing, merging, changing lanes, turn signal engaged, etc.(So as not to surprise the driver).

4- Any information, wether from a caller ID or navigation direction is given verbally to the driver so there's no need to look at a screen

5- System is calibrated to driver’s skills and experience so a teen aged driver is given certain allowances and elderly drivers are provided more assistant.

6- The system can fits into a cell phone, and connects to the car network “CAN” physically or wirelessly and communicates with the steering thumb sensor in the same manner.

7- The system also detects signs of DUI from thre driver handling the steering wheel, heart, sweat, temp, steering corrections and reports the driver to police, activate the emergency lights and limit speed of the vehicle.

We need to stay connected to stay competitive, but we need to do it safety. What we need is to educate our legislative bodies to require a device like ours on every vehicle. Automotive and Telecom companies have been toying with speech recognitions for over two decades now, but the automotive environment is too harsh to allow a desktop environment to succeed.
We are looking for capital to produce an aftermarket version. 88% of people that see our demo say they’ll buy such a device while 87% think of it as the safest thing as compared to what’s out there. Please contact us on www.actplace.net .
Thank you: Mouhamad A. Naboulsi, president Applied Computer Technologies, Inc.
www.actplace.net