Improving Road Safety Through Drivers, Volume 1

For a while now I’ve been thinking about how to improve the safety of drivers with existing infrastructure. Vehicles have a plethora of safety equipment in them now that add both cost and weight but do indeed save lives. However it’s behavior that ultimately causes accidents, which in turn cause injury and/or death.

There is a huge campaign going on right now with regards to texting and driving. MADD has been around for years along with other campaigns regarding drinking and driving. However I believe the people who would actually listen to these kinds of messages are not the people who are causing the accidents to occur. I believe some things need to change, so that’s what I’m going to be talking about here and in some follow up posts.

I would like to address texting and driving first. While it has increased in recent years, it does not appear to be as rampant a problem as drinking and driving.

One thing that I think gives this problem a disservice is that it’s not just texting, but distracted driving in general. People checking facebook, sports scores, the weather, traffic and a plethora of things that are still going to cause a distraction do not fall under the texting category, but the current campaigns should be directed towards them as well. Someone dying because a driver was texting is still just as dead as the next person who died because of someone checking their email.

So I believe the solution is going to need to come from the handset manufacturers. People are not listening to the campaigns, so rather than trying to tell them it’s time to try to effect some change. Every day this does not happen is another day with deaths on the road which could be avoided.

The things i’m proposing may seem odd, but think them through. Maybe there are other ideas as well, maybe they will be better. But i believe something needs to be done and that there are enough smart people out there to solve this within 90% of the current death, injury and accident rates. One thing that could be done is when a the handset is in motion at high speeds the device actually knows about it. Then provide an API telling all apps this. Then if the person opens a texting app, the app asks the person if they are the passenger or if it can wait. One app already does this for mapping, Waze. When you tap to type in an address it will ask you if you’re the passenger. I believe this needs to be system wide on as many devices as possible, wouldn’t be that radical of a problem, and could likely be made so that no app has to be updated if done right. I’m not saying it’d be an easy change but I believe it’s necessary. If Waze owns a patent on this I think they should license it rather inexpensively, it’d be a huge PR boon for them and it’d be massively great for human life in general.

Some people will just tap past that though, so there could be something else that’s done. Using the current system’s ability to detect motion, we could figure something out. Figure out and know the signatures for when someone is driving and typing one handed. I have a pretty good feeling that this will be different than one handed typing while walking or anything else. The level of difficulty here is harder, but I believe it’d be apropos.

There are other solutions which might work but probably wouldn’t work well. Recording conversations and analyzing them wouldn’t work well. That’s not going to be that dependable I believe, since there’s likely going to be some other noises like radio. But if it were you could try to figure out where the sound source is coming from. There are privacy issues here as well. Overall I believe sound recording solutions would be poor replacements. However i’d be more than happy to be proven wrong.

It’s time to change things for the better here. I think these changes and others like them would make life better for everyone.


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