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Cellphones Transportation

The Case For a Safer Smartphone 184

itwbennett writes: "According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, people who text and drive increase their chances of 'safety-critical events' by a multiple of 23.2. And new research is constantly rolling out, showing the same thing: 'We can't handle the visual, manual, and cognitive commitment of using a phone while driving,' writes blogger Kevin Purdy. What's needed, Purdy suggests, isn't more laws that will go ignored, but phones that know enough to stop giving us the distractions we ask them for: 'I think the next good phone, the next phone that makes some variant of the claim that it "Fits the way you live," needs to know that we don't know what is good for us when it comes to driving. We want to be entertained and shown new things while doing the often mundane or stressful task of driving. More specifically, those phones should know when we are driving, quiet or otherwise obscure updates from most apps, and be able to offer their most basic functions without needing to turn on a screen or type a single letter.'"
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The Case For a Safer Smartphone

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:15PM (#46737717)

    but that would be too much to ask.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:22PM (#46737735) can learn to put a fucking cell phone down.

    We don't need smarter apps to tell us to ignore a phone while driving.

    We don't need smarter six-packs. Or smarter makeup. Or smarter food containers. All of these things should not be mixed while steering a ton of steel down the freeway.

    We we need are smarter drivers on the road who fucking know better.

    And I agree. We don't need more laws. What we need is more real consequences like jail time for offenders so that they may wise up. Clearly current methods are not working, and Darwin award winners in this case take innocent lives with them.

  • Statistics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:23PM (#46737739) Journal

    Until someone can explain to me how the number of accidents per million miles travelled has steadily declined for almost two decades, yet cellphones are supposedly causing people to drive like they're intoxicated or worse, I won't put much stock in these "safety-critical events" claims.

  • social problems (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:24PM (#46737745)

    Why do we keep trying to solve this problem with technology? Until technology exists that only affects the driver, but not any of the passengers, this attempt is useless...And if this is advertised as a "feature" of the phone, it will be turned off. Sure, it might be nice, and might even save lives, but no one is going to put their phone down.

  • Thanks, but no. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:28PM (#46737767)

    When I go feature shopping for a new phone, automatically preventing me from doing shit is not going to be high on the list.

  • The Nanny Phone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:28PM (#46737769)

    needs to know that we don't know what is good for us when it comes to driving

    A) How does it know if you are a passenger or not.

    B) Phones that don't do what we want when we want are considered "broken" by most people, not "helpful".

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:31PM (#46737789) Journal

    The main problem is that we are human being, that we are *NOT* robot.

    As human beings we are the product of millions of years of evolution - an evolution that did not encounter _any_ form of electronic gadgets until very recently.

    The fact that we can drive a car (or any vehicles) is not because we *adapt* to the way the car operate, but it is another way around.

    We engineer the vehicles so that they can become our tool, and the operation of that tool is *within* our range of capability.

    While using cellphone (and now smartphone) have been accused of causing a lot of accidents, they are not the only distraction. Long before the advent of the cellphone, a lot of traffic accidents were caused by drivers adjusting their radio (either looking for station of turning up/down the volume), or adjusting the seat, or the air condition, or whatever.

    It is thus evidenced that we human beings are not made to be effective "multi-tasking" device

    And smartphones are not the only culprit - I have known drivers who were so distracted by their on-board sat nav devices such as tomtom (and other brands) they drove their car into poles, walls, and so on

    Personally when I drive, I drive. If I have to adjust my seat, my mirrors, my radio, or whatever, I stop my car at the roadside (or any other safe place) to make the adjustment, and then continue my journey.

  • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:32PM (#46737797)

    People need to stop distracting themselves while driving. Better yet, make sure that anyone who causes damage, injury, or deaths due to their negligence while driving is fully prosecuted under the law. It's no different than driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving a vehicle requires responsibility as a driver.

    Let's not kid ourselves. People will just root their phones and bypass any restrictions put in place to block access to the phone while driving. And how the hell would a phone know the difference between a passenger sitting in a car and a driver?

    At it's heart, this really isn't a technology problem, but a societal one. We need to crack down on this sort of stuff, so people understand that it's simply not worth the risk to break the law. It would be awesome if software or hardware could fix all those meatware-related problems, but that's not the world we live in.

  • by timholman ( 71886 ) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:33PM (#46737805)

    we need are smarter drivers on the road who fucking know better.

    Here's the problem: we've tried to make people into better drivers since the automobile was invented. It hasn't worked. You can't change human nature.

    People still drive drunk, they still drive distracted. The main reason fatalities have dropped is only because cars are safer.

    We don't need smarter drivers. We need smarter cars ... or specifically, self-driving cars. Take the human entirely out of the equation, and only then will you see a real difference.

    We'll have self-driving cars on the road long before anyone invents a smartphone that "knows what's good for you". And when that happens, the problem of distracted driving will become completely moot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:34PM (#46737809)

    How would the phone differentiate between the driver and passengers? How about passengers on a train? I can't see how this would work without causing a huge swath of collateral damage.

  • Re:Statistics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:49PM (#46737877)

    correlation != causation goes both ways. Just because overall accidents have declined doesn't mean that cell phones don't contribute. There have been other changes- new safety features in cars, improved road design to less high-risk areas, etc, and there could be other factors, such as perhaps people who play video games are less likely to get into an accident, and now we have more people who grew up with video games driving. There is far more going on than cell phone use
    And honestly , how can looking at a screen instead of the road NOT increase your risk of accidents?

  • Human Nature? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AaronMK ( 1375465 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @01:06AM (#46738157)
    I don't buy this "it's just human nature" argument.

    The prevalence of cell phone use while driving is much greater than that of driving drunk. It is not because it is less of a "human nature". It is because there are stronger deterrents.

    If people faced similar penalties to those of DUI (jail time, loss of driving privileges for extended periods of time, etc) for having their hands on the phone while driving, you can bet "human nature" would change accordingly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @01:06AM (#46738159)
    Speaking of the radio... I am so annoyed by these new radios with all the menus and crap.

    I grew up with an old car radio that had two knobs, the one on the left was which station, the one on the right was how loud, and it had five in-out sliding thingies under the dial. If you found a station you liked, you picked one of the five little thingies and pulled it out, then pushed it back in. From then on, whenever you pushed on that thingie, it would set the dial to the same place it was when you pulled it out, and would do so until you put the dial somewhere else and pulled it out; then it would go to that somewhere else.

    It was so damned simple and intuitive you did not have to even think much about it, much less look at it, to adjust it properly.

    It required about as much attention as getting a fly off your nose.

    These new radios are a real pain in the ass to mess with when I am trying to drive. I really miss my old radio.
  • Not mundane (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dutchwhizzman ( 817898 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @01:23AM (#46738217)

    Driving is not a mundane task. As long as people treat it like that, they will be donating organs and keeping the car body repair industry blooming. Even if we're not using a phone, having a conversation is so distracting that the intense task of keeping a lump of metal hurling along at speeds our brain never was meant to comprehend is severely compromised and chances of an error potentially resulting in a crash are increased close to the same amount as when we're on the phone. Holding the device isn't going to matter much, we're just as screwed if we're concentrating on a passenger or trying to comprehend the squeaking of a hands free kit.

    Perceived danger is key here. We tend to think there is no danger in doing this, because none of our senses alert us of anything (possibly) going wrong. Make the seat belts pop loose, let a spike appear from the steering wheel and make the car rumble if drivers appear distracted. That will make them aware they are crossing a line that quickly leads to a situation they can in no way react to in time, if they notice it at all before they have an accident. Their sense of danger will be triggered and they will avoid getting to that point in the future, or or ignore it and become another statistic.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 13, 2014 @01:36AM (#46738249)

    The ultimate fix isn't more jail time [1], because you can toss a ton of people in jail, and there is a drunk texter right behind them. The ultimate fix is going to be autopiloted cars.

    [1]: Well, unless you are a Corrections Corporations of America stockholder which is enjoying a stock rise that is actually better than Apple, percentage-wise.

  • by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @01:44AM (#46738279)
    We need to teach rational thinking in school. Stop indoctrinating passive consumers and start training people to THINK about their environment. Of course then people would start questioning those in power, and that isn't wanted.
  • by zephvark ( 1812804 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @04:29AM (#46738741)
    Or we could cut off their hands! That would work, right? ...mandatory sentences, my ass. Haven't we had enough of "zero tolerance" rules already? They're much worse than the problems they purport to solve.
  • by Jody Bruchon ( 3404363 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @09:34AM (#46739477)
    When I had a T-Mobile G1 phone with the lovely five-row hardware keyboard AND prior to "no texting and driving" laws going into place, I could cruise down a highway with low to moderate traffic, texting away for the entire ride, and still watch everything going on around me. I did this regularly. I could see every brake light and every erratic movement. I could also easily drop my phone and jerk the wheel if someone nearby got way too unstable. I'd hold the phone at the top of the wheel with both hands on the wheel and the phone at the same time, and my field of view included both the tiny phone screen and the massive windshield.

    Hardware keyboards made this relatively safe, as I could type text very accurately without looking except to check periodically. No five-second distractions. On-screen keyboards ruined this; now I have to deal with an inaccurate touchscreen and pray that my auto-correction works properly (and that I didn't hit a letter that auto-corrected to the wrong word!) Texting while driving became a traffic ticket, on top of the demise of the hardware keyboard. Now I can't text at all; it's not safe because I'd have to hide it and on-screen keyboards are difficult to use without a great deal of focus.

    People don't stop texting while driving when it's illegal. They get smart and do the texting well out of view of an officer, which means you have the long distraction of on-screen keyboards and looking far away from your driving environment to read and write combined. The perfect storm of texting while driving, and it's the drive for thin phones and banning texting while driving that caused it. Then cops do this shit [] which illustrates the utter ridiculousness of the situation. If you have to buy big pimpin' SUVs to catch people texting while driving, maybe you should consider whether you're attacking the root of the problem or just one of the symptoms.

    You can't stop people from texting while driving, so my solution is as follows. Drivers would need to not text when in heavy traffic or poor weather, which I think is really stupid in the first place and should be common sense. Phones need to return to slide-out 4-5 row hardware keyboards which allow the typing to happen without requiring concentration on it. Texting while driving should be made legal as long as it happens in such a way that the driver's eyes are still within the general "windshield field of view" while doing it, which means hands would have to be on the wheel and peripheral vision would be doing its job.

    This would be the safest combination. You will never stop people from texting while driving. Punishment is not a deterrent. No one thinks they're going to get in trouble for minor shit like this until they actually do; why not greatly reduce the risk involved instead of increasing it with laws that ban it? Then again, they still haven't understood this concept about marijuana and other currently illegal drugs, so I suppose we should expect no less.
  • Re:Statistics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday April 13, 2014 @09:56AM (#46739581)

    I'm fairly surprised that people who are so anti "distractions" via cell phones (even when stopped) claim it's such a huge distraction, that they overlook climate control and stereos as the number one fiddled with while driving "distraction".

    So do you stare at the air conditioner or stereo for minutes at a time?

    If you've watched a person who is texting while driving that isn't how it works. They start by picking up the phone, and hold it near the hub of the steering wheel. They read the text. Then after about 5 seconds have passed they look up briefly to see what is happening on the road. Then its back to looking at the phone. Then they reply. So they are now really concentrating on that phone and not the road. Perhaps their intentions are good, but that half second scan of the traffic can get extented to 8-9 seconds apart. And that is when they start rear ending people, running redlights, and running over curbs and instaswitching lanes.

    I see it every day on my local highways. And trying to defend TWD is like trying to defend Jerry Sandusky because, "Hey - he did some good for those kids he was boning".

    People have various punishments for TWD'ers, from jail time to taking their licence. All you have to do is take the most important thing in their life. It isn't their freedom or their families. It's that little smartphone that has become more important to them than life itself.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb