Contrary to public image, the auto industry rarely voluntarily embraces the type of change/innovation necessary to maximize safety. For decades after seatbelts and head restraints were deemed as a necessity by all authorities, the auto industry continued to only sell these safety features as upgrade options. As an expensive upgrade option, many consumers elected not to pay for seat belts and head restraints in the vehicles they purchased. Consequently, the auto industry compromised safety to save money.
In fact, the auto industry did not install safety belts and head restraints in every vehicle until it was mandated by federal regulations. When all cars were required to carry these safety features, the industry no longer had to worry about some competitor undercutting them in the marketplace by offering cheaper cars without seatbelts.
For the sake of safety, the government stepped in to trump the consumer’s personal preference (which is often more price sensitive than safety conscious). After all, left to their own preferences, the public in the 1970s bought children lawn darts until the government took them off the market.
History has a tendency to repeat itself. Studies show that texting while driving accidents account for as many as 23% of car crashes. Other studies demonstrate that if you text and drive, you are six times more likely to cause a crash than a drunk driver. Worse yet, an overwhelming majority of drivers under the age of 25 admit to regularly texting while driving. Furthermore, in a recent survey, nine out of ten drivers under the age of 25 believe that texting does not impair their driving.
We know that texting and driving is dangerous. The vast majority of texting drivers recognize it’s dangerous for others to text and drive, but fail to recognize it as dangerous when they do it. So, they continue to drive distracted and even brag about it even though studies continue to show the urgent public danger of texting while driving.
At the risk of sounding like “Chicken Little,” can I be the first to tell you (I hope that I’m not the first) that on this issue, the sky is falling?
To put this issue on the shoulders of the phone and auto industries, the first question is whether technology exists that can prevent drivers from texting and driving? This answer is a resounding “yes.”
In terms of technology that can disable cellphones while a vehicle is in motion, there are at least three applications (techies call them apps) that have been on the market since 2011. There are also devices that can scramble cell phone signals that have been in use for decades by the military and other groups. For example, mega-churches use these devices during broadcasted services to keep these gatherings free from cell-phone distractions. You install a scrambling device in a church and voilà, you have a text-free pray zone.
Texting while driving is distracted driving and they're both extremely dangerous. The fact is we have the technology to stop this but it may take more tragic auto accidents to open manufactures eyes to this public safety threat. We feel the mobile phone and auto industries should be forward thinking and equip vehicles with some kind of device that allows hands free communication only while driving. If you've been in an auto accident with a distracted or texting driver call Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn at (303) 782-9999 today for your FREE personal injury case evaluation.