Smart Phones Add to Distracted Driving Epidemic

Ownership increases the desire for more in vehicle connectivity, which will lead to still more needless DD deaths and injuries.

by on Jun.23, 2010

“Death by Cell Phone” is the title of a billboard advertisement from the National Safety Council.

As more vehicle owners trade-in traditional cell phones for “smart phones,” their interest in communication- and connectivity-related features for their vehicle has also increased.

That’s a major – and deeply troubling – finding, in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study released today.

The study is designed to measure consumer interest for emerging automotive technologies, both before and after an estimated market price is revealed. The results come as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wrestles with DD – distracted driving – which is responsible for almost 6,000 deaths annually.

The U.S. safety agency also estimates that 515,000 people were injured in police-reported crashes in which at least one form of driver distraction was involved in the accident.  (See Adults Worse than Teens about Cell Distractions)

NHTSA does not have the statutory authority to issue regulations concerning DD. And automakers and electronics companies are making enormous profits from increasing the use of devices that cause distracted driving, without any apparent legal liability. (See Deadly Distracted Driving Expands as Automakers Market More and More Unsafe Devices and also Senate Kicks Distracted Driving Back to the States )

The study finds that among the 51% of vehicle owners who have a smart phone, interest levels for wireless connectivity systems are higher than the industry average, both before and after the price is revealed. Before price is revealed, 77% of smart phone owners indicate interest in wireless connectivity systems for their vehicles, compared with the industry average of 64%. (This industry average is also troubling.)

More than one-half (56%) of vehicle owners with smart phones are interested in mobile routers, compared with an industry average of 46%. In addition, 47% are interested in having an in-dash computer versus a 38% industry average.


“Although several states have imposed bans on drivers using hand-held devices and one-half of states have or are in the process of implementing bans on texting while driving, this legislation has not necessarily put a stop to how vehicle owners are manipulating these devices,” said Amy Jacobs, manager of automotive emerging technologies research at J.D. Power and Associates.

“As a result, vehicle owners – particularly those with smart phones – are still using their devices inside the vehicle and may be looking toward manufacturers and suppliers alike to develop technologies that can enhance, simplify or potentially eliminate the need for unsafe phone usage in the vehicle,” said Jacobs.

In the survey about 30% of smart phone owners admitted to texting and checking e-mails while in the vehicle. (Imagine what the real numbers would be if people smart enough to not implicate themselves in this increasingly illegal behavior answered honestly?) Among these same owners, nearly 40% indicate they would like to have the ability to have e-mails read aloud through their vehicle’s sound system, while a similar proportion would like the ability to have text messages displayed on an in-vehicle screen.

The 2010 The 2010 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study is based on responses from nearly 18,000 vehicle owners. The study was fielded in May 2010. It was redesigned this year to include additional primary and secondary technologies; a dedicated smart phone section; key emerging technologies packaging exercise; elasticity analysis; and expanded psychographic and lifestyle-driven content.

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2 Responses to “Smart Phones Add to Distracted Driving Epidemic”

  1. Len says:

    Better yet, imagine that they impose a ban on stupidity while driving. You get pulled over and the officer verbally describes your offense into a computer database. The computer then analyzes the level of your stupidity and fines you accordingly.Exponential fine increases for repeated stupid offenses.
    The only problem with this idea is that people may leave thinking they are stupid.This may make them not feel good about themselves and we just can’t have that. Every driver is a special individual that needs to be treated with respect………Even I’m getting nauseous dishing out that kind of liberal crap!!

  2. Carry says:

    Thanks so much for sharing a lot of this awesome info! Looking forward to reading more posts.

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