Distracted Driving Prevention Technology On The Horizon

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates seatbelts and air bags save more than 14,387 lives each year. A new life-saving technology may be just as commonplace – in 88 percent of all cars by 2025, according to Ernst & Young.

The “telematics” business involves the linking of cars to computer systems. Right now some cars offer enhanced navigation and emergency services through the technology, but the NY Times says newer applications include delivering data to insurer regarding driving habits like speeding or hard-braking and jamming mobile phones to prevent calls or texts while the car is in motion.

We see far too many senseless tragedies as a result of cell phone use in the car here at Hardy Wolf & Downing. And as experienced Maine distracted driving accident lawyers, our firm is committed to protected the rights of innocent victims.

Will new technology stop texting & driving?

The NY Times tells the story of Scott Tibbitts, a chemical engineer who made docking stations for NASA, and how he got involved with distracted driving prevention technology. He had been on his way to a meeting in Denver back in May 2008 when he learned that the executive with whom he was supposed to meet had been killed by a texting teenager behind the wheel.

He immediately embarked on a mission to create technology that would block incoming and outgoing texts and calls while cars were driving.

More than five years in the making, Mr. Tibbitts’ system works by using a phone’s GPS capability to determine whether the phone is moving more than 15 miles per hour. There is a screen that allows passengers (or liars) to bypass the system, but the National Safety Council sees this technology as “a huge deal.” The thought is that the system will be able to send out default messages that the driver “can’t see your message right now because he’s driving.”

The big question remains: now that the technology is out there, will people actually use it? Aegis Mobility, a leader in the field, has 10,000 subscribers paying $5 a month for GPS service that can block texts, calls, and emails. AT&T’s free DriveMode app has been activated by more than 1.5 million users since its 2012 debut. Tens of thousands of users have reportedly paid $129 for software linking phone and car through Bluetooth, which also blocks communications when the vehicle is in motion.

Still, critics say it’s just a “drop in the bucket” because the demand to stay in touch is much stronger than the call for greater safety. Will the technology come standard in all vehicles in the future… or will Google’s self-driving car become the new standard for highway traffic safety? Only time will tell.

Distracted driving in Maine

State Governor Paul LePage has made curbing distracted driving his pet project since 2011. He said fines have not worked to curtail distracted drivers, so he is proposing increased enforcement, license suspensions, and public education campaigns to reduce the number of fatalities related to cell phone use behind the wheel.

The Portland Press-Herald offers a few Maine distracted driving statistics to consider:

  • There have been about 8,000 crashes because of distracted driving in the past three years
  • There were 41 fatalities due to distracted driving accidents in Maine since 2011
  • In 2013 alone, there were over 3,000 distracted driver crashes and 12 fatalities
  • An estimated 500 crashes occur near work site zones each year
  • In Maine, 800 citations were written for distracted driving offenses in 2013

“It’s just too much,” says Governor LePage. “A lot of parents, children and mothers are simply not going to be coming home.” As he gears up for his re-election run in November, he plans to introduce a bill that requires cellphone customers to use a hands-free device while driving. He urges drivers to keep in mind this simple slogan: “One text or call could wreck it all.”

File a texting & driving accident lawsuit in ME

Distracted driving accident victims can count on Hardy Wolf & Downing for help. Over the past 38 years, our Maine car accident lawyers have litigated dozens of claims. Our distinguished track record of success includes more than $100 million in compensation secured for injured Mainers.

We are adept at back-end research to discover exactly what happened in your crash, but we also have the gravitas to represent your best interests before a judge and jury. After a free case evaluation, we can help you file a personal injury lawsuit and pursue compensation for medical bills, vehicle damage, lost income, emotional hardship, and more.

Call us today at 1-800-INJURED.