Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“New York State is continuing to use every tool at its disposal to combat texting while driving,” remarked New York Governor Andrew Cuomo upon the announcement of 91 “texting zones” positioned throughout the state. The mission: to impede the growing number of text-related traffic accidents. With 3,300 fatalities and 387,000 injuries from text-related car accidents in 2011, the growing tech epidemic is an important challenge to address. Accordingly, nearly 300 signs are being posted around New York to encourage drivers to pull over if they wish to text. The signs will indicate that there is a safe zone up ahead to park and continue texting. Further, New York recently increased text-and-driving fines from $50 to $150 for a first violation, up to $200 for a second violation and up to $400 for a third. All of this comes in response to what the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently defined as the most “alarming” distraction for drivers.

Businesses Help Out Too

Just as the city of New York has made strides in getting texting while driving accidents to decrease, businesses and technology are aiding in the cause as well. A few of the major cell phone providers have created apps that automatically cut texting off when the phone is in motion, such as Textcution. Other apps, like Drive Safe.ly and AT&T’s Drive Mode allow phones to send automatic replies to texters, letting the texting party know that user will respond when s/he is not driving. The downfall to these apps, of course, is that they must be initiated by the user... Motivating the user to actually implement safety technology is another story.

Pressure is coming from all sectors, encouraging drivers, governments and businesses to find a way to dramatically reduce texting while driving. A recent Harris Interactive study reports that almost 90% of Americans believe that texting while driving should be illegal on the federal level. But with so many drivers taking part in the faux pas, it’s no wonder the problem is increasingly difficult to manage.