Distracted driving is a major problem in the world right now. While we become more and more connected to our smartphones, tablets, smart watches, and so forth, the risk of having this technology negatively impact our driving is omnipresent.
Fortunately, as the technology in our smartphones and other accessories continues to improve, so does the technology built into cars. Many vehicles are starting to come out with features explicitly designed to combat the issues that distracted driving causes.
While hands-free headsets and native touch screens have been major steps in the right direction for alleviating the risks presented by distracted driving, the future will hold many more wildly innovative features that will help serve to make distracted driving a thing of the past.
In addition to things like bluetooth and touch screen features, future cars will be able to do things like monitor a driver’s blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate in order to determine whether stress levels are rising during a drive. Honda has been researching ways to do this using unobtrusive sensors on the seatbelt and steering wheel, and they believe the technology will soon be possible.
Another way to monitor a driver’s engagement while on the road will be to monitor how many activities a driver is taking part in. Cars will be able to determine a driver’s “busyness” by how many commands he is making compared to a normal day in the car. Cars will then adjust to make sure the driver isn’t overextending himself, even putting the vehicles systems on “Do Not Disturb” mode, preventing incoming calls, texts, and emails.
Many cars already have a do not disturb feature of sorts, but none currently have an auto-engaging one like what Honda is working on. There is a time and place to check all your messages, and that is not while you are driving; it is not worth risking your life and the lives of others. An automatic do not disturb mode when you are overdoing it would be beneficial to drivers everywhere.
While all of these technologies are promising, it should be noted that some distraction can actually be beneficial for drivers. Studies have shown that during long drives, when fatigue can become an issue, making phone calls can actually help drivers to stay mentally sharp and alert. The studies do not show that responding to 300 texts per drive is a safe way to go, though.
In any case, we can hope that traffic injuries and fatalities related to distracted drivers will go down in a major way with the introduction of these new technologies. Look for cars to keep improving as they combat distracted driving in the coming years.