Smartphone Apps: Reason for the Increase in Traffic Fatalities
The New York Times recently published an article reporting on the Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years, and some researchers are blaming apps. After a steady decline in traffic fatalities for the past four decades, traffic deaths on U.S. roadways just made the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in the first six months of 2016, traffic crash deaths went up 10.4%.
Although the NHTSA has been warning the public of the dangers of distracted driving and texting, from Pokemon Go to Snapchat, drivers in Texas and across the nation are using these apps behind the wheel. Officials are calling on tighter regulations to help reduce the number of crashes.
Hands-Free, Not Substantially Safer
Most importantly, motorists need to understand that hands-free apps have not been proven to be substantially safer than manually using any smartphone device. In fact, many researchers believe it’s the cognitive workload that makes distracted driving so dangerous. Above all, having your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road is essential to safe driving.
Cognitively, you should be thinking about the task of driving and focusing on the road. If your thoughts are elsewhere, you’re going to have slower reaction times and more difficulty responding to emergency situations that could arise behind the wheel. Remaining cognitively engaged in the task of driving is critical to your own safety and to the safety of your passengers and others on the road.
Automotive Technology and the Risk of Distracted Driving
Many automakers have integrated Bluetooth and other hands-free technologies into their newer vehicles. They are still not proven to be safer. If you’re manually, visually, or cognitively focusing on apps, devices, or any other type of distraction behind the wheel; you’re putting yourself and others at risk for injury-causing and potentially fatal crashes.