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Smartphone (in the car) Effects (Part II of II)

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) embarked on a longitudinal study (2014 to 2018) on the driving habits of 12,000 drivers in Northern Virginia. Over this fouryear period, smartphone use while driving increased 57%. Separate research indicates that risk of death for drivers being distracted by their phones has risen and IIHS estimates that smartphone use could now be responsible for up to 800 fatalities per year.

A senior research scientist at IIHS, David Kidd, went on recordpositing, the latest data suggest that drivers are using their phones in riskier ways. Distraction alone accounted for 3,166 fatalities in 2017 (per NHTSA), and researchers like Kidd now believe smartphone use is steadily creeping to occupy a significant amount of those 3,166. Getting back to our initial point, driving can beboring or downright annoying if youre in a big city with city traffic.Compared in many ways with all the other things we could be doing, the temptation to mix in the phone with bumper to bumper traffic is an attractive proposition.

Kelly Funkhouser is a vehicle usability program manager at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center. Funkhouser brings up an excellent point saying, society increasingly expects people to multitask at all times of the day, so there is going to be pressure to accomplish something if theyre getting pinged on their phone. If the boss or wife or husband or parent or whomever knows you always have your smartphone on you, theyre going to ping or call. In 2019, not pinging or calling back immediately is almost considered rude.

As you can see (and know first-hand) this is growing into a larger issue, one that is arguably cultural more so than mechanical.Culturally we love our phones, value our time, and cant stand being separate from them for any extended period. Our network knows this and indirect shaming results from those who are not second-by-second respondent during waking hours. Being on the road and unavailable in 2019 for 1.5 hours is blasphemy! The whole issue could auto-correct if everyone abided, but that would take a gargantuan effort. Well see how autonomous driving can potentially remedy all this.

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