Texting While Driving a Huge Problem... And Getting Worse.
“I’m sorry. I was texting,” acknowledged the 20-year-old driver of a pick-up truck that collided with a church mini bus in Texas, killing 13 people.
A witness who was following the pick-up said the driver was moving erratically prior to the collision, crossing the center line several times and “going off the road and into oncoming traffic. He just kept doing that.”
Twelve people died at the scene, another died at the hospital and one passenger was listed in serious but stable condition.
It is stunning to realize that Texas is one of four U.S. states that still do not ban texting while driving, but passage of such a bill in Texas finally seems within reach.
Some companies, like Cargill, are banning their employees from using their phones while driving.
A compilation and analysis of data from hundreds of thousands of drivers’ phones showed that about one in four drivers across the country involved in a crash were using smartphones within one minute before the accident occurred.
“It may not be a super surprising, but still disturbing, trend: That people are using their phones a lot, and that’s playing a role in the accidents,” said Sam Madden, MIT computer science professor and founder and chief scientist at Cambridge Mobile Telematics.
The company’s research also found that significant phone distraction occurred on nearly one-third of trips, whether they ended in an accident or not, and that significant distraction lasting more than one minute occurred in about one of every 10 trips.
The company has helped develop apps to help curb phone use. The apps send data back for research purposes, but also they give feedback to users about how well they’ve been driving, issuing them a rating for each trip, an overall score and allowing them to see how their performance compares with that of other drivers.
“We think this is a promising way to educate and incentivize drivers to behave in a better way,” Madden said. “Most people will reduce their bad driving behavior with this app within about 30 days of using it.”
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