Stats ‘n Facts
A Pathway to Death and Destruction
Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:
- Using a cell phone or smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.1 Estimates indicate that drivers using cell phones look but fail to see up to 50 percent of the information in their driving. Distracted drivers experience what researchers call inattention blindness, similar to that of tunnel vision.2
Drivers distracted by competing activities (i.e., cell phone conversation) demonstrated poor ability to control their speed and following distance. Cell phone use was associated with a twofold increase in the number of rear-end collisions.3
2. Cognitive Tunneling 4
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 (i.e. texting) and filters out visual and auditory cues from their 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 nothing is happening in the traffic ahead, there are few visual stimuli to alert the driver to stalled traffic. If the oncoming driver is engaged in text messaging and focused on his or her mobile device, “movement” on the periphery of their vision may alert them to the danger and result in accident avoidance; thereby obviating injuries, deaths, and property damage.
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 a factor. Humans are attracted by changes in light, movement of light, disappearance and appearance of light – but not light itself. If light were that effective at garnering attention, our eyes would be drawn to the sun each time we venture outdoors.4
3. Distraction + Tunneling = …
EYES WIDE SHUT: 23 Seconds
Text messaging on a cell phone was associated with the highest risk of all cell phone-related tasks. Text messaging increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by two times and resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds total.5
Cell Phones Increase Crash Risk
Activities performed when completing a phone call (reaching for a phone, looking up a contact and dialing the number) increased crash risk by three times.5
Light Vehicles or Cars
RISK: 2.8 Times Higher
Dialing a cell phone made the risk of crash or near-crash event 2.8 times as high as non-distracted driving
RISK: 1.3 Times Higher
Talking or listening to a cell phone made the risk of crash or near-crash event 1.3 times as high as non-distracted driving
RISK: 1.4 Times Higher
Reaching for an object such as an electronic device made the risk of a crash or near-crash event 1.4 times as high as non-distracted driving.
Heavy Vehicles or Trucks
RISK: 5.9 Times Higher
Dialing a cell phone made the risk of crash or near-crash event 5.9 times as high as non-distracted driving
RISK: 6.7 Times Higher
Use of, or reach for, an electronic device made the risk of crash or near-crash event 6.7 times as high as non-distracted driving
RISK: 23.2 Times Higher
Text messaging made the risk of a crash or near-crash event 23.2 times as high as non-distracted driving.
US National Library of Medicine 7
National Institutes of Health
Texting while Driving Survey (March 2016)
59.2% of All Survey Respondents
59.2% of all respondents said they wrote text messages while driving in the last 30 days.
71.5% of All Survey Respondents
71.5% of all respondents said they read text messages while driving in the last 30 days.
74.6% of All Survey Respondents
74.6% use GPS Mapping Devices and Apps.
92% Read Text Messages While Driving (College Aged Students)
Surveys confirm that young adults are at high risk for distracted driving; in one, 81% of 348 college students stated that they would respond to an incoming text while driving, and 92 % read texts while driving (Atchley et al. 2011).
Yes, I understand. You really don’t need to have all these stats on hand to understand that in-car driver distractions are a huge issue. All one needs to do is drive down the road and witness all the texting, talking, reading, eating, grooming, and other activities occurring all around us, as irresponsible drivers barrel down the road “controlling” tons of hurtling steel and glass. Scary!
In a Nutshell
One headline and one statistic that sums it all up:
HEADLINE: Traffic Deaths on the Rise as Distracted Drivers Roam the Roads 8
STATISTIC: More than 50% of all automobile accidents are now rear-end collisions 9
5. The Genesis Solution (More Facts, Fewer Stats)
Standard Braking Indicators Fall Short
As we’ve demonstrated here, in-vehicle distractions can lead to accidents when vehicles ahead begin to slow or stop. Activities such as text messaging are considerably more forceful in drawing and maintaining driver attention. Texting is easily capable of blocking driver awareness to changes in velocity by vehicles forward of his or her vehicle; reducing reaction times necessary to avoid many rear-end collisions.
For example, in rapidly stopping or stopped traffic, the application of the brake pedal on vehicles, such as passenger cars or light trucks equipped with standard existing brake indication technologies, results in continuously illuminated brake lights located on the rear of those vehicles. A distracted driver approaching stopping, stopped, or slow-and-go traffic, may be less inclined to notice a “solid” braking indication if they are blind to the threat.
Specious at Best
A few companies have unsuccessfully attempted to address driver reaction issues associated with cognitive tunneling by creating a temporary blinking of the third brake light on cars and light trucks, through the use of cheaply manufactured circuitry. Designed for aftermarket installation on passenger cars, these devices cause the brake light to blink a few times at the onset of braking, but fail to provide any tunneling countermeasures once the vehicles have stopped; because their functionality ceases after a few flashes due to a “lockout” technology. That lockout is designed to create compliance with federal laws requiring regular periods of non-flashing while the brakes are applied. Novelty circuits present marginal benefits because the vast majority of rear-end collisions occur after the forward vehicle has completely stopped and remains motionless; during the period when that circuitry is non-functional.
CCM: Computer Controlled Modulation
By contrast, George Jameson, the inventor of Sure Stop Technology™, recognized that computer-controlled pulse width modulation (CCM) of the apparent intensity of vehicular braking indicators, according to a specified pattern, can facilitate early and continued recognition by approaching drivers in trailing vehicles, while remaining compliant with applicable law. Such modulation can capture the attention of the oncoming driver, who may be distracted by cognitive tunneling while focusing on activities within their vehicle (e.g., texting). A predefined CCM pattern, that continues to provide tunneling protection after vehicles have fully stopped, allows for earlier recognition of a potential hazard.
National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies reveal that a single second of “earlier recognition” will result in a 90% decrease in accidents resulting from rear-end collisions.
Sure Stop Technology™
The Genesis modulation device includes an electronic apparatus installed in new vehicles or trailers (OEM or Dealership Installations) that can provide that important second of additional recognition time. The device can be installed in a solitary configuration or integrated into the manufacturing process for new vehicle BCM’s (Body Control Modules, aka vehicular computers) or BICM’s (Brake Indicator Control Modules).
In contrast to other approaches, during a period of continued brake application, Sure Stop Technology’s™ modulation of apparent intensity according to the programmed pattern can be terminated after a specified initial modulation duration, to suppress apparent variation in intensity, but while still continuing to modulate a current or voltage to the braking indicator in a manner that is not apparent to others viewing the braking indicator (e.g., using modulation having a pulse width short enough or using pulse amplitude variation small enough that such amplitude variation, pulse width variation, or pulse amplitude variation is not perceived as blinking or flashing).
Such non-apparent modulation can continue until the brake is released or, for example, until a specified duration expires and the apparent (e.g., highly-visible) specified pattern can again be repeated. In an example, if the brake is released, modulation is terminated. A timer is initiated upon detection of a release of the brake. If the brake is reapplied within a specified duration as indicated by the timer, the electronic apparatus can enter the non-apparent modulation state without presenting the apparent modulation pattern. This can avoid frequent distracting apparent flashing when the brake is momentarily released and quickly re-applied, such as in stop-and-go traffic. In this manner, a lockout scheme is not needed and a control circuit supervising the modulation provides modulation in all states when the brake is applied, but, depending on the state of the electronic apparatus, the modulation may not always be visibly apparent to observers.
6. The Financial Costs
It’s all about the numbers (Costs: litigation, injury, property, manufacturing, etc…). In dollars, costs associated with collisions are approaching One Trillion Dollars Annually. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the total societal harm from motor vehicle crashes in 2010 was estimated to have been $836 billion.10
7. Saving Lives
Given more than 50% of all automobile-related accidents are now said to be rear-end collisions resulting from distracted driving, there is an increased urgency to address the underlying issues. Since studies clearly indicate most of those accidents could be prevented if trailing drivers were alerted to slowing or stopped vehicles ahead equipped with pulse width patterned modulation circuitry like the Sure Stop Technology™ patented by Genesis Systems, you’re probably wondering why haven’t automobile manufacturers adopted this proprietary technology. In short, it may be sooner than you think. Stand by as Sure Stop Technology™ moves into the mainstream.
Genesis Systems is the patent holder, manufacturer, and conveyor of miniaturized embedded computerized systems solutions for vehicle safety enhancement.
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- Facts and Statistics at Distraction.gov
2. A Cognitive Distraction White Paper” National Safety Council
Maples, W. C., DeRosier, W., Hoenes, R., Bendure, R., & Moore S. (2008). The effects of cell phone use on peripheral vision. Optometry – Journal of the American Optometric Association. 79 (1), 36-42.
- Understanding the Distracted Brain. The National Safety Council. D.L. Strayer, Ph.D. and F.A. Drews
- Multitasking Morons and Cognitive Tunneling
5. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI)
6. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI)
7. National Institutes of Health
8. Chicago Tribune (August 24, 2016)
9. The 2016 Fleet Accident Management Survey (conducted by CEI and Fleet Response)
10. The Economic and Societal Impact Of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010 (Revised)