Texting While Driving Prevention by Automakers and the Government
By: Good2GoPublished: March 24, 2014
Why don’t car makers install texting blockers in all new vehicles they manufacture?
The standard safety features that we see in today’s cars didn’t always exist. Over the last few decades, automakers and the government have teamed up to ensure that drivers and passengers are protected in the event of a crash or collision. While many of these safety features are commonplace such as seatbelts, airbags, and anti-lock brakes, there are many relatively new features that aren’t required, but are becoming very common in new cars:
- Forward collision avoidance system
- Adaptive cruise control
- Backup camera
- Parking assist
- Adaptive headlights
- Reverse backup sensors
- Autonomous braking
Automakers are consistently looking for more ways to make cars safer. This emergence of computerized safety features demonstrates the auto industry’s willingness to help drivers prevent, avoid, or at least reduce the severity of crashes. While these features have addressed most road safety concerns, distracted driving continues to be a major challenge. Why aren’t text blocking devices being added as a standard safety functionality by auto manufacturers?
Texting While Driving Prevention by the Government
As of January 26, 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a federal ban on texting while driving by all truckers and bus drivers. However, this measure has yet to reach the general public. Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been urging Congress for years to implement a federal ban on texting while driving that would affect all United States citizens. As of March 2014, 42 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have banned text messaging for all drivers.
It is anticipated that devices and apps that control the basic functions of a cell phone will be installed in all vehicles to prevent distracted driving. The FCC is working with industry leaders, safety organizations, and government agencies to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving while looking for innovative technologies that could reduce crash incidences. However, until this becomes regulated, we will still need to rely on state laws and other education initiatives to reduce the prevalence of texting and driving. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) lists “eliminate distraction in transportation” on its “Most Wanted List” of the most critical changes needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives.
Challenges to Texting While Driving Prevention
One of the main reasons why it will be difficult to mandate the installation of text blocking devices in every vehicle sold in the U.S. is due to privacy concerns. From the NSA bugging computers and snooping through social media sites to government drones spying on its own citizens, Americans are becoming more wary about letting their whereabouts be known by Big Brother. Many text blocking apps are designed to tap into the phone’s GPS. While this is intended to help parents keep an eye on their teen drivers, not everyone likes the feeling of being tracked.
Another concern is price. While there are consumers who are interested in blocking technologies, the cost could be a major deterrent. Depending on the device, text blocking devices can cost up to $400. Whether it’s the auto manufacturer, the driver or the U.S. government who has to foot the bill, it’s going to be an expensive safety measure to implement nationwide. However, there are a few car insurance companies who offer discounts and rebates to supplement the cost of these devices.
While there is some level of interest in text blocking technology by drivers themselves, the ability for these devices to differentiate between a driver’s mobile device versus a passenger’s could be technologically challenging. Depending on the device purchased, an app can be installed on just the driver’s phone so the text blocking features won’t affect the passenger’s devices. With more and more blocking devices and apps on the market, an issue of standardization will arise. Since no two text blocking devices are exactly alike, additional legislation may need to be put into place by states or the federal government to ensure consistent safety measures are being taken.
These are just some of the reasons why it may take some time for the government to make text blocking devices a federal law. The reality is that state bans, while well-intentioned, are difficult to enforce. There is no easy method to detect if the person is sending a text message, browsing the internet, looking at their GPS or turning the volume down on their phone’s ringer.
Distracted driving continues to pose a serious threat across the United States, and it’s a problem that can’t be solved through legislation alone. In an essay published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the authors address the need for new technological and regulatory approaches to eliminating texting and driving.
In a perfect world, there would be a technological solution in which the car itself would recognize when the driver is using a mobile device and deactivate all texting and Internet browsing capabilities. This opens the door for auto manufacturers to step up their safety game and consider pre-installing text blocking devices into their vehicles – just as if it were another add-on feature. But until then, we have to wait and see if the U.S. government will put this nation one step closer to a mandated text blocking law, eliminating distracted driving for good.
This call to action is all about reducing risks and saving lives. And at Good2Go, we think you should be rewarded for doing just that. That’s why we created the Cell Phone Safety Discount. This discount gives you 5% off your car insurance premium for simply installing a text blocking device in your vehicle. Not only will you be saving countless lives, you will also be saving money.
Protect yourself affordably with Good2Go.com auto insurance. Get a cheap car insurance quote today.