There are apps that can cause or contribute to car accidents if used improperly. Messaging app Snapchat allows motorists to post photos of a vehicle’s speed. Waze is a navigation app which rewards drivers with points for reporting accidents and traffic jams. Pokemon is a game in which drivers search for virtual creatures on streets they drive. These apps are in addition to the granddaddy of distracted driving apps, text messaging. These apps when used while driving contribute to motor vehicle accidents, traffic injuries and deaths. In facts, after declining for four decades, in 2016 highway fatalities increased in 2016 10% over 2015 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In a Florida accident outside Tampa on 10/26/16 in which five people were killed, the Florida Highway Patrol says it recovered a Snapchat video of an occupant recording a speed of 115 mph before the collision. A similar case in Georgia in 2015 recorded a speed over 100 mph just before a collision.
The federal Department of Transportation and the National Safety Council advocate stricter standards, regulations and laws as well as enforcement, to help reduce accidents. This includes mandatory use of seatbelts in cars and helmets on motorcycles, reducing drunken driving and speed reduction zones. Also, autonomous-driving technologies may make cars safer, not necessarily self-driving, just safety features such as blind spot warning systems now standard on some cars. More hands free implementation of technology may help as well, but to me that is an enabling feature. Other than talking handsfree or seeking navigation handsfree, a driver should have his eyes and mind on driving and nothing else. As Deborah Hersman, president of the nonprofit National Safety Council and a former chairwoman of the federal National Transportation Safety Board, explained, its not clear how much those various technologies reduced distraction — or, instead, encouraged people to use even more functions on their phones while driving. Freeing the drivers’ hands does not necessarily clear their heads. “It’s the cognitive workload on your brain that’s the problem,” Ms. Hersman said. This is reported in Auto Safety Regulators Seek a Driver Mode to Block Apps by Neal Boudette in the New York Times on November 22, 2016.
One new technology, the BMW heads-up display on the windshield projects speed, the speed limit and navigation information. But again, one must remain focused on the driving reality, not the virtual information. There must be technology available to block or limit the use of apps by a driver. Perhaps eye tracking technology is the answer.
McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin helps passengers and drivers injured in car accidents recover for medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering.