As we’ve reported in our previous blog, texting and driving heighten the risk of car accidents in Georgia since reaction times are nearly doubled when engaging in distracted driving. It’s not just consumers or independent researchers that have confirmed the dangers of texting and driving; even car manufacturers undeniably agree – texting and driving is a serious risk to every driver’s safety.
Now, auto manufacturers are speaking up and taking a stance against distracted driving by equipping new cars with texting technology that would allow drivers to engage in communication without the use of their hands.
The hands-free text messaging technology, while promising, still has not won over safety experts who insist any kind of distraction, regardless if the use of hands is involved, can still contribute to car accidents. As the technology develops, experts will have to weigh in to determine if hands-free texting is as safe as auto manufacturers indicate.
“Unfortunately, drivers are being encouraged to do everything but drive,” said Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association. “It’s a sign of the pressures of modern-day life to do 10 things at once. However, driving is a complex task, and our message continues to be that a singular focus is needed.”
People are more inclined than ever to tap into other distractions since we spend more than 34 hours a year in traffic – twice as much than in 1982. Now, drivers are constantly engaged in cell phones, texting, GPS devices, radio, and even TV and Facebook now that Ford has unveiled its Sync system technology. Now a standard feature, the Sync system allows users to connect to cell phones to text, call, and even connect to Facebook.
“When a motorist is driving down the road and a cell phone rings and they answer it, they’re giving us a message that that’s important to them,” said Wade Newton of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
It’s undeniable that wireless communication while driving is important to drivers, and many are unwilling to part with it even if there are risks involved. But, there are ways you can still stay connected, and most importantly, stay safe.
Safety first: keeping distractions at bay
Fortunately, there are reasonable ways you can help keep the road safe while staying connected. Until hands-free texting is a standard feature, consider the following alternatives to stay on the safe side of the road.
Audible Text App
A safety app like DriveSafe.ly will automatically read texts out loud upon receipt so long as the application is activated prior to driving. It’s easy to use and it’s free. Of course, there are many safe texting apps available so choose the one that is best suited for you.
Rules for teen drivers
Be sure you have distracted driving rules in place for teen drivers. You also may consider installing a parental cell phone monitoring tool, especially for new drivers. Download our free teen driving contract to lay down the ground rules before your teen hits the road.
Simply pull over
So long as you can do it safely, pull over to read your urgent texts and answer any impending phone calls. Pulling over into a parking lot or shopping plaza is a good idea so you stay out of the way of traffic. Never pull over into a bike lane, sidewalk, or crosswalk. Make sure you use common sense when pulling over to make calls or texts.