• Haley Bengtson

Put An End to Driving Distractions

Updated: Oct 17, 2018

We're all aware of it's dangers.


Many of us are guilty of this.


Some of us have experienced the consequences of it first hand.


If you haven't guessed it yet, that thing is known as 'Texting while Driving'.



According to reports from NHTSA in 2016, roughly 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while behind the wheel. Nearly 390,000 accidents occur each year from those who text while driving.

Some may think they can multitask and send messages while still operating a motor vehicle, but they would be proven wrong.


It takes away visual, physical, and cognitive focus from the driver. Your eyes are not on the road anymore, your hand(s) have left the wheel of the car, your mind isn't fully acknowledging the road and your surroundings. Instead those three things are all now focused on your device.


It's been reported that answering a text can divert 5 seconds of your attention from the road.

That's 5 seconds where you lose those three abilities to keep your focus on the road. And if driving 55 mph, you've just driven the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed and without any hand on the wheel.


Now I'm not here to scare you, although I do hope it changes your perspective of answering texts while on the road. My main point is to show that here in lies a problem. One that we have been fighting to solve since the evolution of texting.

The problem: Drivers need a way to prevent text messages from being a distraction while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle because texting and driving takes away the driver's attention from the road and could cause accidents potentially leading to death.

One thing that the Apple has done well with in trying to solve this problem is the use of the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature. You can switch this on in your phone’s settings and have a custom message sent whenever people try messaging you on the road. Once you switch it back off, the notifications will come flooding in.

The only problem with this is that it doesn’t account for emergencies.


One thing that could be helpful is to extend this feature to allow emergency messages to come in. They could instead have a message return to the messenger asking if this is an emergency, then type in ‘EMERGENCY’ and it will send your original message to the driver.

So what should we do about this problem?


I have two proposed solutions:


Hypothesis #1: By adding a new phone feature on your lock screen that can prevent access to your phone and any incoming messages or calls for the driver, we will see a decrease in users texting while driving which can be measured by related accidents.

When you get in your car, wake up your smartphone to view the lock screen. For Android devices, you will see a car icon in one of the lower corners of your device. For iPhones, swipe up and you'll see the car icon. Tap the icon to put the phone in ‘Driver mode’ and it will lock your device, thus making it incapable of unlocking until you tap that car icon again to turn it off.

This new feature will only allow ‘Emergency’ calls and notifications to display and made able to respond. Users who are trying to contact you will get a notification in response (or if a call, a recorded message) notifying the user that the person is driving and will get your message at a later time, but if it’s an emergency to press 1 or type in ‘Emergency’ if a text. The driver will then receive the text or see an incoming call, otherwise the phone will remain silent for the entirety of the trip.


Hypothesis #2: By using a bluetooth device located in the car that will connect to a device when within the vehicle to lock your phone and block any incoming messages or calls for the driver, we will see a decrease in users texting while driving which can be measured by related accidents.

For drivers who easily forget to turn on a features like ‘Do Not Disturb’ while driving (or rebellious teenagers), an easy solution could be to have some bluetooth connectivity feature where you have a bluetooth device in your car that senses your phone has entered the vehicle and will connect and make your phone incapable of unlocking and only allow emergency calls or texts to notify the driver.


It would also have to account for the fact that there may be passengers in the vehicle and to not disable their devices. So it would need to have a device added to the bluetooth device’s list of phones to connect to.

I’m not entirely sure if this is possible, but it’s an idea nonetheless, and one that parents would be sure to love.



Though these ideas may sound amazing these proposed ideas are merely just that: ideas. Like any hypothesis, in order for this to show any realistic value, it must be tested. But take these ideas as you wish.


Put them to the test!


I encourage you to run with it and see where it goes. But before you do, know who you're testing for, what the benefits will be, how this can can be measured.


Consider if it's even worth the time and cost of investment.


If you have any ideas for how to solve the issue of 'Texting while Driving', please comment below! I'd love to hear your thoughts.


If you'd like to collaborate on creating something, I'd love to bring this idea to life.



Bibilography:

  • Texting and Driving Accident Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.edgarsnyder.com/car-accident/cause-of-accident/cell-phone/cell-phone-statistics.html

  • Texting & Driving. Retrieved from https://www.dmv.org/distracted-driving/texting-and-driving.php