Cogosense Blog

Cogosense's Driver Behaviour Blog

New Study Finds Half of Distracted Drivers are Texting

A recent press release from the University of Washington finds that 8% of drivers on Washington state roadways were using electronic devices while driving and that half of those were texting.

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The full study is expected to be published in October but joins a growing list of state initiatives to understand the problem of distracted driving and to take action to prevent distracted driving. The State of Iowa issued a comprehensive RFP in September 2013 to evaluate technology solutions aimed at young drivers within the state.

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Technology Can Fix What It Broke

A great blog post by a master marketeer, Seth Godin, today. He comments on the unlikelihood of emotional appeals, such as the recent Werner Herzog short film, to change deeply entrenched values and behaviours in our culture:

  • The culture of the car as a haven, a roving office, and a place
    where you do what you like
  • The culture of the Marlboro man, no speed limiters in cars,
    'optional' speed limits on roads
  • The culture of connection and our fear of being left out
  • The culture of technology, and our bias to permit it first
    and ask questions later

He notes that part of the solution could be notifying others of a driver's status as they could be held liable for knowingly causing dangerous distractions. However, he summarizes the most "inexpensive, fast and effective" solution perfectly:

... when a phone is moving, don't permit it to accomplish certain tasks.

People won't die as a result.

It won't cost the companies a penny in profit.

And defenders of the status quo will scream about freedom and access and rights and how it used to be. They will worry about people on trains or passengers in carpools.

But you know what? It's better than being dead. Better than being the victim of the one out of three drivers I see who couldn't wait ...

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Safety Versus Freedom

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Nathan Seppa, of Science News, authored an excellent article last week entitled "Impactful Distraction - Talking while driving poses dangers that people seem unable to see."

The article touches upon many of the important issues in the distracted driving market including:

  • Competing interests between (a) science which has clearly established the dangers of distracted driving, (b) individual freedom which resists the government imposing regulations and (c) legislation which attempts to balance the interests of safety and freedom
  • Psychology that individuals believe distracted driving to be very dangerous for others but safe for themselves
  • Dangers of handsfree usage and the absence of legislation dealing with such dangers

There are several excellent infographics included in the article including the one shown below related to tunnel vision (or distractions which draw attention away from the routines that would provide a good representation of the driving environment) and "inattentional blindness" (or looking at something and not seeing it because the mind is elsewhere).

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Download PDF

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2003-2013 By The Numbers

Regardless of our political beliefs, we can all agree that the loss of life in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade is tragic. But ABC News recently reminded us that, over the same 10 year period, we have lost more than five times as many lives to distracted driving accidents on our own highways here at home.

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that distracted driving is a contributing factor in more than 386,000 injuries and more than 3,000 deaths every year.

To put that into perspective, you could fill any NFL stadium more than five times with the number of people who are injured by distracted drivers every year.

To put a finer point on it, in the last 10 years, America has lost five times as many husbands and wives, sons and daughters to distracted driving than to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Distracted Driving - What Is Your State Doing?

The GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Association) just released their 2013 Distracted Driving Survey of the States.

The main take-away is that there has been an overall increase in states enacting and enforcing laws and an improvement in data being collected compared to 2010 survey. Awareness continues to grow about the dangers of distracted driving, along with partnerships between public and private companies to help promote safety.

Download the survey report.

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