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United States Technology

Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody's Counting (bloomberg.com) 415

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: Over the past two years, after decades of declining deaths on the road, U.S. traffic fatalities surged by 14.4 percent. In 2016 alone, more than 100 people died every day in or near vehicles in America, the first time the country has passed that grim toll in a decade. Regulators, meanwhile, still have no good idea why crash-related deaths are spiking: People are driving longer distances but not tremendously so; total miles were up just 2.2 percent last year. Collectively, we seemed to be speeding and drinking a little more, but not much more than usual. Together, experts say these upticks don't explain the surge in road deaths. There are however three big clues, and they don't rest along the highway. One, as you may have guessed, is the substantial increase in smartphone use by U.S. drivers as they drive. From 2014 to 2016, the share of Americans who owned an iPhone, Android phone, or something comparable rose from 75 percent to 81 percent. The second is the changing way in which Americans use their phones while they drive. These days, we're pretty much done talking. Texting, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are the order of the day -- all activities that require far more attention than simply holding a gadget to your ear or responding to a disembodied voice. By 2015, almost 70 percent of Americans were using their phones to share photos and follow news events via social media. In just two additional years, that figure has jumped to 80 percent.
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Smartphones Are Killing Americans, But Nobody's Counting

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  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:06AM (#55383351)

    We just made using a phone while driving illegal in Texas... Didn't passing a law fix this?

    Wha? You mean people don't obey laws?

      • Oh yes...http://www.jrlawfirm.com/blog/texas-texting-and-driving-laws/

        Of course this is just texting, but they can now pull you over if they suspect texting... We also got open carry in Texas on the same day, which means I can walk down the street with a real loaded pistol in my holster that goes with my cowboy boots....

        The trained eye will see my crosswise swipe at gun control laws in my original post, albeit not specifically discussed, until now..

        • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:35AM (#55383619) Homepage Journal

          We also got open carry in Texas on the same day, which means I can walk down the street with a real loaded pistol in my holster that goes with my cowboy boots....

          The trained eye will see my crosswise swipe at gun control laws in my original post, albeit not specifically discussed, until now..

          So what?

          TX also passed laws making carrying of most knives and swords, dirks, daggers and Bowie legal again too.

          Basically, you're getting rights back that you used to have many years ago and now, you have them back again.

          However, you are forced to do so yourself.

          I would dare say, a potential robber of the local Kwik-E-Mart might think twice about pulling his weapon if he notices that 10-20 of the patrons there are openly carrying weapons.

          • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @12:22PM (#55384025) Homepage Journal

            An article about people who drive like assholes - and think it's their god-given right - and you pop up.

            Whodathunkit?

          • by radja ( 58949 )

            any competent robber will wait until there are no customers. If there are 10+ customers in a supermarket, they can just bombard the the moron with cans of beans.

          • Stop injecting logic into what's clearly meant to be an emotional/idealogical debate.
    • That's always the conundrum in such metrics. For example, it is actually well known that more powerful motorcycles are safer than underpowered ones. WHY? Because they ensure the ability to move quickly when needed in order to avoid accidents.

      Could the increase in accidents be due to the auto industries efforts to achieve better MPG in EPA testing? I've noticed that many newer vehicles, particularly those I've rented, have a trait where hitting the gas does not always move the vehicle. Often, you have to p

      • "That's always the conundrum in such metrics. For example, it is actually well known that more powerful motorcycles are safer than underpowered ones. WHY? Because they ensure the ability to move quickly when needed in order to avoid accidents."

        Assuming you've survived the first hour of driving your Hayabusa, as an example.

        Oh, and you should not buy it form a dealer located on a busy street, or you'll have to survive the first 5 minutes.

        After that, acceleration may save your life. May. After you've failed to

      • by alexo ( 9335 )

        That's always the conundrum in such metrics. For example, it is actually well known that more powerful motorcycles are safer than underpowered ones. WHY? Because they ensure the ability to move quickly when needed in order to avoid accidents.

        It is also well known that unsubstantiated claims are worth jack shit.

        Cite or GTFO.

        • Accident avoidance is what it's called. Any vehicle which can brake, accelerate or change direction quicker will be more likely to prevent the collision in the first place. Of course you have to be paying attention and know what you're doing.
    • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:14AM (#55383409)
      What's the sentence for breaking that law? Fine? Community Service? Make it a mandatory 5 years of imprisonment, and I'll bet behaviors will change.

      Here in our state, there are often road signs that say "Fines double in work zones". Perhaps the same should be applied to all traffic incidents when a cell phone is being used.
      • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:25AM (#55383519)

        That works only if it is enforceable, and actually enforced by the police, courts and juries.

        I'm guessing that the DA would choose not to try cases that involved such stiff fines for texting while driving... Mainly because the average person would be loathed to convict a soccer mom with three young kids to 5 years on confinement for sending a "Get Milk on your way home" text, and you can bet that if this went to trial it would be in front of a jury. A couple of those cases and that law is effectively worthless, because the defense becomes "If you didn't convict x, y and z for this with better evidence, how can you convict my client?"

        • Well, if you wanted to know why road deaths are going up in the US, there's your answer. The first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging that it exists.

          • Except that road deaths are not going up per capita. Cars are vastly more safe now than at any time in history. The number of cars on the road is going up causing more total deaths.

            I am not sure if the number of accidents is going up or down, but crashes are more survivable now.

            The fact that phones are undoubtedly increasing accident rates is the issue here. Without those deaths we could be even safer.

        • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:41AM (#55383657) Homepage Journal

          I'm guessing that the DA would choose not to try cases that involved such stiff fines for texting while driving... Mainly because the average person would be loathed to convict a soccer mom with three young kids to 5 years on confinement for sending a "Get Milk on your way home" text, and you can bet that if this went to trial it would be in front of a jury.

          Why would they have a problem?

          They'd have no problem if she was drinking and driving....and I believe studies have shown that phone usage impairs your ability to drive on the same levels as drunk driving.

          Same type danger...so, why not convict on one and not the other?

          Drinking and driving is not illegal because drinking itself is an "evil" activity....it is illegal because it impairs your ability to drive to the point of putting others in danger.

          Texting while driving does the same thing.

          • I'm guessing that the DA would choose not to try cases that involved such stiff fines for texting while driving... Mainly because the average person would be loathed to convict a soccer mom with three young kids to 5 years on confinement for sending a "Get Milk on your way home" text, and you can bet that if this went to trial it would be in front of a jury.

            Why would they have a problem?

            They'd have no problem if she was drinking and driving....and I believe studies have shown that phone usage impairs your ability to drive on the same levels as drunk driving.

            Same type danger...so, why not convict on one and not the other?

            Drinking and driving is not illegal because drinking itself is an "evil" activity....it is illegal because it impairs your ability to drive to the point of putting others in danger.

            Texting while driving does the same thing.

            There are no 5-year prison sentences for drinking and driving, not anywhere in the US. The highest is 180 days in county for a FORTH offense.

            But causing an accident and injuries or death can bring other charges, but those apply regardless of the concomitant circumstances, such as alcohol/drug impairment, reckless driving, etc. So you don't need another law for punishing people for using their cell phones. You hold someone accountable when they cause a problem for someone else.

            That's the true definition of a

        • Mainly because the average person would be loathed to convict a soccer mom with three young kids to 5 years on confinement for sending a "Get Milk on your way home" text, and you can bet that if this went to trial it would be in front of a jury.

          The average person is a dangerous jackass who enables other dangerous jackasses then. They should treat that soccer mom at least as harshly as they would a teen texting "Gon get drunk AF tonight!"

      • by ChoGGi ( 522069 )

        Seize their license/plates for two weeks, next time for a month, then a year.

    • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:16AM (#55383425)

      Tons of laws on the books. Cell phone laws are not enforced and violations are not villified.

      Get caught drunk and your life will be ruined by the legal system and the attached stigma. Get caught texting, which arguably poses a similar risk to others, and you have a small chance of getting a small ticket.

      Until cell phone users (and all others distracted drivers) get treated legally and socially commensurate with the danger they pose to others nothing will change.

    • by wardrich86 ( 4092007 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:21AM (#55383483)
      The law arguably makes it worse. We all know laws really don't stop people... but now instead of holding the phone up and seeing the road in their peripheral, they're trying to be sneaky by holding the phone down on their lap... so they're looking at the floor. I'm very much against distracted driving, but this law is just bad news all-around... I'm not sure how to approach the problem, though.
      • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @12:11PM (#55383929) Homepage Journal

        This. Distracted driving laws make driving significantly less safe. They're exactly backwards, and those of us with common sense have been saying this since the first distracted driving laws were first proposed. But states keep passing them anyway, and they keep proving us right by producing statistically significant increases [nih.gov] in accident rates despite the appearance of a reduction in use (Trempel et al). And it isn't just the anti-handheld talking laws. Anti-texting laws had the same effect [iihs.org].

        You want a cell phone law that will reduce accidents? Make it legal to use a cell phone, but only if you hold it in a way that you can use your peripheral vision to see the road. Make it illegal to use it in your lap and legal to hold it up in front of your face for brief interactions. Encourage app developers to add low-distraction modes for their mobile apps so that you can interact with the basic controls at a glance.

        Of course, the problem is compounded by car companies that keep switching to non-tactile touchscreen interfaces on their high-end cars, thus guaranteeing that drivers get used to taking their eyes off the road for extended periods of time. And make it illegal for new cars to be sold with touchscreens on the front of the dashboard while you're at it. Require the screens to pop up from the top of the dashboard instead.

        • Thanks for adding those studies to my comments. I'll add them to my arsenal haha.

          I also really appreciated your point on fucking touch-screen radios. My van has one and I can't stand it. Most of the controls can be dealt with via redundant steering-wheel buttons, but some people are going to spend their time fumbling around a flat screen.

          I have no idea who came up with that idea, but they should be run over by somebody trying to change the EQ settings while driving.
    • Open carry of swords was made legal as well in Texas as of last month. I see people with far more respect for their handguns and machete than they do with their smartphone, when it comes to being a hazard to others.

      Only thing you really can do is what the Russians have learned -- have a dash cam on your vehicle and have one on your person. There is one that is being crowdfunded which looks interesting, as it can use a cell link to stream footage for safekeeping in realtime. That way, if there is an issue

    • by tomxor ( 2379126 )

      I live in the UK, any mobile phone use (including talking) while driving has been outright banned here for a number of years now. Never the less you occasionally see someone on the phone, and even worse using the screen - people using screens is always apparent from the outside by fact that their driving is clearly distracted, they often wander all over the road, fail to notice other drivers, traffic lights, pedestrians, given way signs etc etc.

      I've had people almost collide with me head on from wandering

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Clear its time for some "Common Sense Smart Phone Control Legislation"

      Exsiting prohibitions on texting while driving etc are not enough. There should be background checks. Limitations on high capacity storage, being able to send or consume data at rates higher than 3G should require a federal license!

      • Ah.. Somebody got it!

        Yea, we need to create a whole new category of Assault phones, defined as those which have any four or more of the following options:

        1. Auto-Reply texting while in motion.

        2. Glare Reducing coatings

        3. Blue Tooth adapters.

        4. High rate data plans while in motion.

        5. GPS navigation

        6. Storage about 5 Gigabytes and/or an SD card slot

        7. If they are placed in some kind of mount that is viewable by the driver.

        If they do, they are treated like Title 2 devices..

        8. Pistol Grips or extra ca

    • by SirSlud ( 67381 )

      Same old dumb argument. Are you saying that nobody obeys any laws? Are you saying that laws are useless? Are you saying that we don't measure things before and after laws are made to determine their effectiveness?

  • I blame car makers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:06AM (#55383357)

    If every car had by default some good way to mount a cell phone there would not be nearly so much distraction, since you could see the road and not have eyes diverted to the side for notifications or what have you.

    But I am pretty sure car makers do not want your eyes to have any competition from the crappy entertainment consoles they build in, so they provide no good way to view phones which 99% of people would prefer to use for directions and the like.

    That's another factor the article seems to not consider at all - how much does relying on GPS directions which can be confusing and mean many more sudden movements from divers play into increased traffic incidents? Again a problem reduced quite a lot by having a phone holder in line with your view of the road.

    • Newer cars solve this problem with integrated Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Your "infotainment" console becomes essentially a mirror of your phone. Except for Toyota, who seems to be doubling-down on their shitty homebrew system.
    • Only one solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:18AM (#55383451)

      If every car had by default some good way to mount a cell phone there would not be nearly so much distraction, since you could see the road and not have eyes diverted to the side for notifications or what have you.

      There have been numerous studies showing that mounting the phone or even having hands free operation still results in unacceptable levels of distracted driving. And having a mount doesn't force people to use it.

      I've said it before and I'll say it again even though it's not popular. The ONLY way to eliminate the problem is for the smartphones to utilize their tracking abilities and to cease most functioning aside from a few items like 911 calls and GPS when it shows you to be in a car traveling down a road. Since it is impossible to determine who the driver is then it would have to apply to everyone. Yes this will limit passengers use too and that's simply going to have to be a trade off to be made for safety. Exceptions can be made for properly designated first responders. There is no other technology nor any law that I'm aware of that will otherwise adequately mitigate the problem. If you have a better idea I'm all ears but as draconian as it sounds I think it's the only way to force people to be safer.

      • by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:30AM (#55383559)

        Wow, /. really went from "I own this device, I should control what code runs on it" to "the State can (benevolently) require phone manufacturers to lock users out against their will".

        Also, this poster has never had a 45 minute bus commute or taken a 5 hour inter-city bus.

        [ Or thought about Airplane Mode, which is required by law to disable GPS. ]

        • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

          Don't forget we'd between make sure laptops and tablets have the same restrictions!

        • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
          I'm not against disabling phones when moving at a certain rate of speed... however it's an interesting thought.

          I'm 38 - I grew up before cell phones, let alone smart phones, were basically a necessity. I still do not understand why people cannot drive 10 minutes without having to be connected.
      • Unfortunately, the cat is kind of out of the bag on this one. Let's forget about people who will go out of their way to disable this safety mechanism as there will probably only be a small subset of the population who knows how and wants to do that.

        There are tons and tons of cell phones out there now, and by all accounts their turnover rate is slowing down already. If all new cell phones have this technology from now on it will still take probably a decade to get the old ones out of circulation. I'm not say

        • If all new cell phones have this technology from now on it will still take probably a decade to get the old ones out of circulation. I'm not saying we shouldn't do it, just that it won't solve the problem overnight at this point.

          You're assuming that you need to replace all existing cell phones. The vast majority of all cell phones run either android or IOS and come with a ton of sensors that can detect bluetooth, movement, light, speed, etc... and most also have the ability to do OTA updates and many even auto install those updates. It would be relatively simple to push out an update that disabled all smartphones that were traveling faster than 15 miles per hour. The harder thing would be providing exemptions for passengers and

        • Unfortunately, the cat is kind of out of the bag on this one. Let's forget about people who will go out of their way to disable this safety mechanism as there will probably only be a small subset of the population who knows how and wants to do that.

          If they intentionally disable it of course they can do that but then they should be exposed to liability in the event something goes wrong.

          There are tons and tons of cell phones out there now, and by all accounts their turnover rate is slowing down already. If all new cell phones have this technology from now on it will still take probably a decade to get the old ones out of circulation. I'm not saying we shouldn't do it, just that it won't solve the problem overnight at this point.

          So we should do nothing because it won't solve the problem instantly? Stop making perfect the enemy of good. With a simple software update you could get huge swaths of the smartphones out there updated overnight and the rest could be handled over a few years as they get traded in. We don't have to get every phone out there to make a huge dent in the problem.

      • by RobinH ( 124750 )
        That will also prevent people on the bus from using their cell phones. I hate distracted driving too, but yours isn't an acceptable solution.
        • That will also prevent people on the bus from using their cell phones. I hate distracted driving too, but yours isn't an acceptable solution.

          So what? Somehow the world survived for thousands of years without having people use smartphones on buses. It's amazing how entitled people get. I assure you you would survive the experience of not being able to use every feature of your phone for a few minutes. Furthermore there would be nothing preventing you from using a wifi enabled device like a tablet on a bus. It just means you aren't going to be texting or making phone calls while the vehicle is in motion. The point is to keep people from maki

      • Since it is impossible to determine who the driver is then it would have to apply to everyone.

        I think it would be relatively simple to determine who the driver is especially if you got the car manufacturers and/or the phone manufacturers involved. There are two problems though. Problem #1 is that the car/phone company would be adding a "feature" that makes their product less desirable so you would have to get everyone to do it at the same time. Problem #2 is that people now use their phone for navigation so you would likely want to exempt certain apps and who would decide which apps are exempt.

        • I think it would be relatively simple to determine who the driver is especially if you got the car manufacturers and/or the phone manufacturers involved.

          How do you figure? You have some way to unambiguously and reliably determine who is in the driver's seat? I've never seen such a solution though I'd certainly welcome one. I think that would be an extremely difficult problem.

          Problem #1 is that the car/phone company would be adding a "feature" that makes their product less desirable so you would have to get everyone to do it at the same time.

          Easy to get most people with software updates and even if you can get most of the people it should have a herd immunity effect similar to vaccines. Make it a law that after a certain date all phones sold as new have to have the ability to limit use while on roads and force manufactu

          • I think it would be relatively simple to determine who the driver is especially if you got the car manufacturers and/or the phone manufacturers involved.

            How do you figure? You have some way to unambiguously and reliably determine who is in the driver's seat? I've never seen such a solution though I'd certainly welcome one. I think that would be an extremely difficult problem.

            You can live without facebook while driving I assure you. Even as a passenger.

            I agree that disabling even for passengers should be the default. As far as re-enabling for passengers that meet certain requirements, off the top of my head, if google can detect distinct pet dogs then surely it can train a neural net to detect whether a steering wheel is present in the back camera, whether eyes are focused on the phone in the front camera, whether there is excessive movement of the phone, etc... you could even do something like requiring a moving passenger to do some specific task every

    • If (IF...) this uptick is due to using those engaging features such as photos, etc, I doubt position fixes much. You're still engaged with the screen, and for an extended (at highway speeds) time.

      I've had a mount in my car for phones for decades, knowing that having my phone floating around is terrible. And Bluetooth headsets to both keep wires out of the stick shift and to let me talk without holding the phone - this concept still eludes many drivers.

      Mounting options are plentiful in most cars. Vent holder

    • If every car had by default some good way to mount a cell phone there would not be nearly so much distraction, since you could see the road and not have eyes diverted to the side for notifications or what have you.

      Uh, no. There is no configuration that would be deemed safe for a driver to operate a smartphone, so let's stop pretending there is. And yeah, that goes for mega-infotainment systems too. Surfing your car stereo controls is not any different than surfing your smartphone controls when it comes to distracted driving.

      That's another factor the article seems to not consider at all - how much does relying on GPS directions which can be confusing and mean many more sudden movements from divers play into increased traffic incidents?

      Been using GPS systems long before smartphones came along, so I've seen many iterations. They continue to improve, both in functionality and accuracy. GPS can easily be navigated with nothing

    • I used to live in a place where I had to park on the road and had multiple legally parked vehicles hit by people texting while driving. I have never been in an accident that didn't involve someone else on a cell phone and I have been driving since the 80s. I did have what I can only assume must have been drunk driver hit and run my car in the middle of the night they also hit a neighbors house and took down some fencing all along my road.

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        Clearly we need more parked cars and fences along the road for people to hit instead of pedestrians and bicyclists. Get those bad drivers off the road before they do any real damage!

        Unfortunately, transportation engineers have been facilitating the opposite by removing roadside trees [petroliala...pendent.ca] and therefore violating their code of ethics to protect public safety [streetsblog.org]. Isn't it ironic [strongtowns.org] when they widen streets to make it easier for paramedics to respond to collisions caused by wide streets?

        That and other [youtube.com] reasons [strongtowns.org] are why tra

    • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:39AM (#55383641)

      You actually bring up a _much_ bigger problem -- WHY is the driver even taking their eyes off the road in the first place?

      We have had the technology for **decades** for HUD (Heads Up Display) -- i.e. the speedometer + other stats is projected onto the windshield.

      But everyone is too cheap to make it a standard [youtube.com] Of course HUDs aren't perfect but it is a step in the right direction.

      Making HUDs standard, along with your idea of standardizing holders for smart phones on the dash -- cars would be safer. But I guess we don't value safety enough.

      --
      Censorship IS precisely the problem, not the solution.

    • Actually, it doesn't matter. If you're looking or listening to your phone, you're not paying attention to the road. Looking somewhere near the road isn't good enough. http://www.nsc.org/learn/NSC-I... [nsc.org] https://www.bostonglobe.com/op... [bostonglobe.com] and lots more articles that got pulled up when I Googled for "hands off cell phone safety"

    • If automakers added a mount which let you view your phone while driving, and you got into an accident while using it while driving, you'd sue the automaker for encouraging dangerous behavior. But if they don't add a mount, forcing you to add it yourself, and you get into an accident while using it while driving, you have only yourself to blame.
  • People deep in a conversation on a cell phone can also be quite distracted - and cause accidents.

    I was once almost hit by a taxi cab at a zebra crossing because the cab driver was yapping away on his cell phone. I saw him using the phone because I was trying to get eye contact with him, expecting him to stop at the crossing as is the law when there are people out on the crossing. I had to jump.

  • by fleeped ( 1945926 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:11AM (#55383387)
    There's no cure for stupidity. Can't fix this without crippling legitimate users, unless the equivalent of speed cams are introduced, that identify correctly cretins that hold phones while driving. Because I don't think eye-tracking will be in cars anytime soon to identify prolonged lack of attention on the road.
  • I own a flip phone while I ride the bus with the people who pick up your trash. We aren't all millionaires out here in Silicon Valley.
    • I own a flip phone while I ride the bus with the people who pick up your trash. We aren't all millionaires out here in Silicon Valley.

      Given the median price of a home there, not even the millionaires are millionaires...

    • I own a flip phone while I ride the bus with the people who pick up your trash. We aren't all millionaires out here in Silicon Valley.

      Sounds like you might need to consider MOVING to another city/state where jobs are more plentiful and cost of living is much less, so that you could afford your own car.

  • Autopilot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:15AM (#55383421)

    What we need is more driver assistance tools: autopilot, collision detection, lane assist. There's money in it , it appeals to the laziness of the drivers, and allows to take control away from the drivers. What's not to like.

  • Yet again, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:17AM (#55383441) Homepage Journal

    we can have the conversation about how road deaths have consistently not tracked cell phone use over many years and there is pretty much no solid statistical evidence that phones increase accidents. They certainly contribute to some accidents, but that's very different to them contributing to higher accident rates. It's entirely possible that map applications reduce accidents by causing people to drive less and to know where they are going to turn before they get there.

    Why, when road deaths increase are people quick to blame cell phones? If road deaths go both up and down while cell phone use goes in one direction, that's evidence that they are not directly linked. What about other likely culprits like shorter yellow times at traffic lights? Increased use of speed and intersection cameras causing people to suddenly brake? An increase in politically infuriating radio shows?

    People have simplistic minds and no clue about statistical inference.

    • Correction:
      The poster of TFS has a simplistic mind and no clue about statistical inference.

  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:20AM (#55383471)

    There's a big problem with 'people' in general - they won't learn any lesson you want to teach them, as a population, no matter how simple, or stupid the thing you're trying to correct.

    At a basic psychological level, we sometimes get the urge to correct them at large - a lot of road rage is effectively this, where you try and interfere with a rude driver to 'teach them a lesson'. It virtually never actually works.

    You can't fix phone-use deaths by telling people it's bad, or showing them the effects of how distracting it is to functionally driving. If you try and implement technological features that make it annoying to use the phone while driving, most folks will disable this, taking great pains to do so.

    It's not even that people think that they're immune to distraction, or even that they don't think it's dangerous - folks just don't like driving, and they like/need their phones, and even with death and huge fines as consequences, they'll do the 'bad thing' on statistically overwhelming scale.

    The better fix is to automate driving so that folks can do most anything and not have that be a safety factor.

    Ryan Fenton

    • by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @06:14PM (#55386565)

      Except that I can think of three counter-examples: Seat Belts, Drunk Driving, and smoking. In each of these cases, we've made significant strides in changing the behvariour of the general population, and dramatically reducing the number of people injured or killed by these issues. None of these involved technical solutions, and instead were achieved through public education/advertising, changes to laws, and eventually changing expectations such that the problematic behaviours become socially unacceptable.

      So yeah, can we change public behaviour? Sure, we've done it before, we can do it again. The best bet is to start doing this through kids, since they're the ones that are likely going to nag their parents to leave the phone alone.

  • Infotainment too (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @11:21AM (#55383477)

    We've also had a steady rise in the complexity and abundance of infotainment systems that needlessly complicate the few tasks you legitimately need to attend to while driving.

    Tactile knobs have been replaced with menus and buttons to adjust the temperature. I can't use feel and peripheral vision like on my old car to adjust heat, vents, or volume. Worse yet, the buttons that remain are a smooth surface that I can't even make out without looking at them. Form over function.

    AAA has shed some light on this as of late, but until car makers reverse course, it is just going to get worse and worse.

  • Get rid of your so-called 'smartphone' and take back your lives. All they are is another time-suck and a waste of money, you do not need them AT ALL. Get over it, get rid of it, and spend the time you'd spend staring at your phone doing something useful instead.
  • It all comes down to enforcement of the traffic laws. It's useless having the laws if the majority of the population has thoroughly self-justified their ignoring the laws and no one is holding them accountable. I've worked with police officers. They hate doing traffic duty. It's boring and, to them, results in too many head aches (paperwork, ticket appeals, etc.). Moreover the city council and/or mayor get complaints when the police are slowing traffic and thus "keeping people from jobs" and "slowing commer
  • Darwin is an unmerciful god of cleaning out the gene pool. Let us not question His Wisdom nor His Methods.
  • I drive around 50K miles a year. Nearly all of that time, except when I am transporting my children, I am utilizing the phone. Yet, in spite of that fact, I have had no significant accidents. And the deer I hit, was when I was not using my phone. But it's Pennsylvania, so deer sometimes fall from the sky in front of cars. If you're from PA, you understand.

    • Either way it doesn't end well for the deer.

    • I have never had an accident does not equal you are a good driver. I have never had an accident does not mean you have not caused others to have one. I have never had an accident does not mean that in the future you will not have one. Your argument is invalid.
  • Considering all of the safety systems introduced into cars, the crashes must've also increased in severity, to result in fatalities.

    Also, is there any significant increase in states where marijuana was legalized?

  • I live in a large, major metropolitan area of the USA and I have to say that both on my commute and just any general driving where I live, everything is getting much worse in terms of other drivers. We have problems here with aggression. Here's an example I see all the time. If you're coming to a stop at a red light, cars behind you will whip over into the next lane if it's empty so they can attempt to go fast and get in front of you once the light turns green. We also have a really big and constant pr
  • If your phone jumps to cell #3 as you move, everything except voice turns off.

    NO texts in or out until you are not moving for 1 minute.

    Same for browser or wi-fi connection.

    Voice and 911 would continue to work.

    Might be simple hardware fix.

    But the FCC would have to do the specs.

  • The very title says, "nobody's counting" — how do we know, it is the smartphones, that are to blame and not any of the other things, which we aren't counting either? Like illegal immigrants driving (whether or not they do in substantial numbers is unknown), or relaxed rules for obtaining a license, or increase in speed limits, or even smart-phone use by the pedestrians (victims) themselves?
  • People do.

    Seriously, every auto fatality involves a car, but not every fatality involves a smartphone.

    Let's ban cars, that will fix the problem!

  • Correlation does not equal causation.

  • by humptheElephant ( 4055441 ) on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @12:01PM (#55383837)
    I don't know about the stats, but my wife was waiting at a red signal in the left turn lane with a car in front of her. The light turned green but the guy in front of her didn't move as he was busy on his cell phone. Another woman smacked her from behind then because, you guessed it, she was busy talking on her phone and didn't notice that the cars in front of her were not moving. This woman didn't even get out of her car. My wife was stunned from the hit but fortunately, her granddaughter was able to get out and get the woman's info. Scientific studies show that talking on the phone is a distraction whether or not your holding it. I gave up riding my motorcycle years ago because I had too many close calls at intersections because of folks driving distracted talking on their cell phones. As an aside, my stepson is a truck driver and can look down at drivers as they pass him and sees people texting and driving all the time even though it is illegal in my state.
  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Tuesday October 17, 2017 @01:52PM (#55384763)

    Think of it as evolution in action.

Bringing computers into the home won't change either one, but may revitalize the corner saloon.

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