A young irresponsible female student at Texas A&M drove her car into the rear-end of a parked police cruiser in Bryan, Texas at 8:30 PM on Wednesday, October 26, 2016.
The responding officer at the scene said, “I asked her why she was not dressed while driving and she stated she ‘was taking a Snapchat photo’ to send to her boyfriend while she was stopped at a red light.” The 20-year-old woman was charged with DWI involving an open container and was also issued a citation for a Minor in Possession of Alcohol.
An Epidemic on American Roadways
Reckless behavior and poor choices have, for decades, been problematic. However, bad behavior and poor choices in recent years have rapidly increased to untenable levels. Distracted driving involving smartphone use (also involving bad behavior and poor choices) within moving motor vehicles has become commonplace. As a result, rear-end collisions are now at historic levels; and now constitute more than 50% of all motor vehicle accidents.
What are you doing to protect yourself, your vehicle’s occupants, and your car when driving on motorways filled with distracted drivers? How often are children sitting in your back seat? How much closer to the point of impact at the back of the vehicle are your children than you? Yes, that laser system on your luxury car is nice, but don’t let it give you a false sense of security. What good does it do when Little Miss Selfish believes her love life is more important than the lives of people in the path of her speeding car? How can a laser warning system protect you when the vehicles forward of you are fully stopped and unable to move?
Let’s say you are at the back of a string of cars fully stopped by traffic on the Interstate. What countermeasures, beyond traditional brake lights, are installed on your vehicle to alert selfie-taking Snapchat junkies that you are stopped? As with the young female in the photo above, the eyes of distracted drivers are very likely focused on smartphone images like the bare-breasted photo and any message they might be typing to their Romeo. Anyone in their path is a potential victim. Anyone.
A distracted driver approaching stopping, stopped, or in slow-and-go traffic, may be less inclined to notice a “solid” braking indication if they are blind to the threat. An Inattentional Blindness Phenomenon referred to as “Cognitive Tunneling” very well describes what happens when a driver is focused on a distracting mental or physical task (e.g. texting, taking selfies, using SnapChat, etc…) and will filter out visual and auditory cues from the surrounding environment.
For example, a driver barreling down the freeway while engaged in text messaging is cognitively captured by texting activities and fails to react to various stimuli in the surrounding world. If traffic is stopped ¼ mile in front of the speeding car and the view is static (meaning no movement and all brake lights are on and unchanging), there are few visual cues to divert the driver’s attention from texting. No changes, no real alert.
Peripheral vision in the human eye is weak and not well suited for distinguishing color, shape, or detail. Conversely, peripheral vision is especially effective in noticing flicker and detecting motion. If motion is not apparent in the traffic ahead, there are few visual stimuli to alert distracted drivers to stalled traffic. Conversely, if the oncoming driver is engaged in text messaging and focused on his or her mobile device, “movement” on the periphery of his or her vision may produce an alert to the danger and result in accident avoidance; thereby obviating injuries, deaths, and property damage.
Does the Sun Have Your Attention?
While some might argue that bright contemporary brake lights will successfully garner the texting party’s attention, there is little evidence to support those arguments when cognitive tunneling is factored into the equation. Humans are attracted by changes in light, movement of light, and the disappearance and appearance of light – but not, necessarily, to light itself. If light were that effective at garnering attention, our eyes would be drawn to the sun each time we venture outdoors.
No Protection When Fully Stopped
The aftermarket automobile parts arena is filled with a number of competing products claiming to address the distracted driver problem. These devices, often referred to as “novelty circuits,” flash momentarily upon the onset of braking (when you first press the brake pedal). Novelty circuits present marginal benefits because more than 90% of rear-end collisions occur after the forward vehicle has completely stopped and has been rendered motionless. Those novelty products have zero performance capabilities after the vehicle installed with the devices comes to a rest. Only one product commercially available has proven successful in producing a post-stopped modulation sequence that is an effective cognitive tunneling countermeasure; and has been carefully designed to comply with all applicable federal statutes.
As noted above, the majority of all automobile-related accidents are now reported to be rear-end collisions resulting from distracted driving. Studies clearly indicate that up to 90% of those accidents could be prevented if trailing drivers were alerted to slowing or stopped vehicles ahead equipped with pulse-width patterned modulation circuitry found in the Sure Stop Technology™ patented by Genesis Systems.
Genesis Systems is the patent holder, manufacturer, and conveyor of miniaturized embedded computerized systems solutions for vehicle safety enhancement.
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