‘Text walking’ lanes lead nowhere in Antwerp

A major mobile phone repairer in Antwerp, Belgium, scored global publicity with establishment of some "text-walking lanes" in the city. The idea was to avoid "collisions with poles or other pedestrians" -- and maybe even save the life of a clueless text-walker. Local government wasn't on board, though, and the company, Mlab, has since admitted its distracted-talking lanes were a marketing gimmick. The lanes reportedly have since been removed as illegal graffiti and the company was fined for mucking about with the social order. Mlab explained its project in Antwerp thusly: Everyone … [Read more...]

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, entering its fourth year. As with past years, it's an event without an official sponsor, but law agencies are taking the opportunity to crack down on distracted drivers. Distracted driving sweeps and educational campaigns were announced in several major states, including California, Wisconsin and Tennessee. In California, for instance, four days -- April 3, 8, 17 and 22 -- have been earmarked for distracted driving sweeps. "The increased enforcement aims to persuade drivers to recognize the dangers of distracted driving and reduce the number … [Read more...]

Voice-control systems tax drivers

Drivers using voice-controlled systems take their eyes off the road more than expected, safety researchers have found. The total "glance time" for some interactive tasks appeared to exceed the federal guidelines for visual-manual interactions by drivers. The MIT study delivered a mix of good and bad news: "Both positive features and concerns associated with the use of the voice interface were identified." Age seemed to be linked with the challenges of using these interactive dashboard systems: The results suggested that older drivers tended to be more distracted than younger subjects, … [Read more...]

In-dash hands-free flunks test

Citing "a looming public safety crisis" from in-vehicle communications technologies, AAA released a study that again concludes hands-free is not risk free. "Just because a new technology does not take the eyes off the road does not make it safe," said the report from David Strayer's team at the University of Utah. AAA predicts a "five-fold increase in infotainment systems in new vehicles by 2018." "A rush to voice-based interactions in the vehicle may have unintended consequences that adversely affect vehicle safety," the researchers concluded. The report came a day after Apple … [Read more...]

U.S. drivers the most distracted

U.S. drivers are far more likely than Europeans to drive while distracted by wireless communications devices such as cell phones, a trans-Atlantic study found. Almost 70 percent of U.S. drivers said they'd used a cell phone in the past 30 days, compared with 21 percent in the United Kingdom. The closest nation to the U.S. in cell phone & driving numbers was Portugal, with 60 percent of drivers admitting to the practice. Meanwhile, a new "teens and technology" survey finds that teens who own smartphones (such as the iPhone) access the Internet that way about half of the time, suggesting … [Read more...]